Saturday, 25 January 2020

Three's a Crowd? The Official Starships Collection Issues 164 and 165

The question one has to ask with the inclusion of a THIRD USS Excelsior Concept is...Why?!

The collection has a limit of 180 and even now there are still some ships unaccounted for. Could a couple of these concepts have been slipped into the bonus editions (yes, I know they are onscreen in Unification but...)...

It's heavily similar to the previous two Nilo Rodis versions that also appeared in the Qualor II shipyard and therefore bears a lot of the hallmarks associated with the classic Excelsior design.

Right at the front, the saucer carries those familiar red stripes book-ending the ship registry with the speckled attempt at aztecing which is also something we've seen on these larger ships shrunk down to a less than advisable scale when it comes to the paintwork.

The inclusion of the light blue and grey panelling is an element we've seen on all three prototypes and would be refined down for the final movie version. The five phaser banks on the top of the hull are also very evident and accurately painted in. What is new here to see is just how extensive the grey panelling is and how the blue almost appear as huge radiator grilles on either side of the saucer. 

The detail is pretty impressive and Eaglemoss have provided a real insight into a "lost" design. This is certainly a slender take on the Excelsior with the deflector dish and engines providing any real "depth" to the starship which exists along a very thin plane. Tracing a path along the hull and past the very well realised warp core dome, the body of the ship continues the aztec scheme towards the rear shuttlebay and from the back you might be forgiven for thinking this looks not unlike Discovery in the way it flattens with the warp engines spearing out into space.

Annoyingly on mine the engines are slightly wonky as you can just see from the photos. It is noticable but not to an extreme as we've had on occasion before (check the side view for a real comparison). 

The engines; plastic to the main body's metal, are still bearing echoes of the other prototypes with the grey end spikes and now have shortened warp grilles. Everything here shouts speed and streamlining with minimal extremities and a very basic but functional form. If you stuck a couple of extra nacelles on here she'd look pretty close to the USS Prometheus

On the under side the distinctive curved hull with the recessed deflector is in place directly under the hull rather than being on the (here non-existent) secondary hull. The lines of the hull are really smooth and with only a few mods you can see that the final form of the NX-2000 is taking shape. Eaglemoss have done a great job of creating a rare ship and being able to really demonstrate the design lineage of the class.

In answer to my question at the top, this is well worthy of being in the collection and moreso than the slight variations we've had for the Miranda's or the Nebula's where there's been a sensor pod change for example. With the Excelsior Nilo Rodis craft we have a unique perspective to see and get up close with a thought process. 

There are so many bits that are clearly part of each of the prototypes that were advanced to the screen-used model even down to the rear-firing torpedo launchers hidden away on the ventral side of the hull and the shape of the warp engines. 

The length of the ship and the need to confine it to a certain size box is disappointing and larger version of these Excelsior predecessors would look amazing. Demand probably won't be there but they're begging for more, larger attention. 

I love this one after having spend some time pouring over the detail and understanding the lineage. If you've already got the first two it's a no-brainer to complete the set but not everyone's cup of Earl Grey.

The accompanying magazine opens up on a simple double page spread CG of the model and plan views (four pages down) before launching into four pages covering the evolution of this third design and its eventual use within the Qualor II shipyard as well as its influence on the screen representation. While these sections aren't giving us a lot of detail that hasn't already been covered, luckily the section profiling designer David Carson makes up for it a bit with the inclusion of drawings and screen comparisons from his work on Star Trek.

Moving over to what feels like a rare Deep Space Nine entry, we say hello to the Karemma Starship most recognisable in the Starship Down episode from the fourth season.

The ship has a certain quirkiness to it and is one that this collection would have felt incomplete had it not been included. The base grey colour here is accented with a subtle aztec paintjob not usually seen on anything beyond a Federation starship. On screen this wasn't that clear but here you can understand how the more brown patterning actually lessens the base coat.

The metal top piece carries varied levels of detail from the painted on "dots" of the windows around the forward section and the rear. Only on nearer inspection can you find that the windows are actually sitting on raised sections of the hull and rather impressively the white and the raised hull areas actually match up. The curved side sections around that forward section are cleanly shaped with the coloured detail standing out well although there is some of the forward hull elements that blend more into the structure. 

Some of that detail is incredibly hard to make out and again to the rear, the panelling is only really visible if you tilt the hull into the light to catch the edges of the rectangular sections. Between these two pieces are cargo modules with an almost spinal sense to it. The sections are very distinct and have avoided being overloaded with paint allowing you to appreciate the shape of the starship.

Over the top though is a plastic insert again in the grey and beige aztec colouring. It blends well however the edges to this piece are quite rough especially to the back and I've managed to catch a finger or two on them over the last few days. Do be aware that the top corners are also very sharp. 

Underneath the main hull it becomes clear that the length of the ship is a single plastic strip encompassing more of the grey/beige aztec with a brown ribbed effect running along the edges and managing to hide away the join lines rather pleasingly. To the front this plastic under-section includes the third "fin" to curve out from the hull which is a lot stronger than I imagined it would be and echoes the style of the pair either side of the front unit to the Karemma ship.

The consistency in the painting as well as the alignment of all the pieces in this craft are at Eaglemoss' best - until I examined the underslung engine pod which has a kink to one side and also ever so slightly upward on one side. Annoying but not overly obvious this might be, it's still a minor downpoint on what is an unexpectedly solid model.

Now, out to the sides the metallic pylons drop down to the two separate plastic warp engines. The design of these are one of the great spectacles of the ship and not because it incorporates the hull paint scheme into the curves of the two pods. The Karemma Starship has some lovely use of negative space towards the back of the engines, opening them up on three sides. The tragedy comes in that the inside piece is flat grey with no surface detail whatsoever. The result looks great from the side although there is some separation of the plastic pieces to create the effect to the front of the spaces.

For us Deep Space Niner's the Karemma Starship is an odd non-Federation, Cardassian or Dominion ship from the show that's been added to the collection. Even with some slight niggles, I'm still impressed with the overall result and how the various elements, angles and spaces have all been drawn together into this ship. Combining inserts, wrap sections, metal curves and all still (mainly) aligned, it's a quadrant away from our usual expectations of build quality.

Into the magazine now and we have the standard episode recount from Starship Down before a storming read on the designing of the Karemma Starship from John Eaves including sketches and also its other appearances in various guises. The issue rounded off by a very interesting read around David Mack and John J Ordover's pitch to Deep Space Nine which became the screened episode. This alone is worth a good read to see how the episode changed from conception to TV.

What did you make to the third Excelsior Concept?

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Friday, 24 January 2020

Picard: Remembrance

Has it been worth the wait and the hype?

It’s the question we’re all going to be asking this week as Star Trek: Picard premieres on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime Video. 

Twenty years have passed since we last saw Picard in Nemesis and a lot’s happened. Romulus is no more and Mars is ablaze following the synth attack as detailed in the recent Short Trek, Children of Mars. For those of you following the recent Countdown for Picard comic series, I'd speculate that this is one of the reasons that issue three has been delayed in that it will tie into these references given the time frame in which that story is set.

Living his days out at Chateau Picard, Jean-Luc is assisted by a pair of Romulans; and generally seems to be keeping out of the way. However - and as you would expect unless you thought this was a ten part wine-making series - that all gets tipped upside down with the arrival of Isa Briones’ Dahj.

If you’ve seen the trailers you’ll know that she’s on the run and turns to Picard for help but there’s a great deal more to the story which becomes apparent fairly quickly if you keep up with events.

Initially it seems that the show is setting up a master and student relationship between the pair with Picard’s dreams of Data adding an air of mystery to the proceedings but through a series of rapid twists towards the latter half of the episode, all your expectations for the series are pretty much ripped up and tossed in the bin. Spiner doesn't dominate the episode either with his two appearances more hinting at events than being an excuse to just have him around in the show. Keeping Data deceased is the correct move but you'll understand that his influence from the past is still important to the show's progression. Needless to say you'll be diving into at least two episodes of The Next Generation in the next week to check out a few points.

The trailers and the publicity machine have done a sterling job of steering us all away from more significant plot points and the show is all the better for not having been laid open in the last few weeks.

There are a couple of really striking things about Remembrance too. Not all of the recurring/main cast show up in this first episode so don’t be waiting for Seven or Hugh or even some of the new crew to have appeared by the end. Also, aside from some segments of recordings, the last two minutes and a brief dream sequence there is almost no space involvement in episode one. Ninety-Seven percent of it is set on Earth and all driven by character. 

Picard’s first episode is daring, brave and ignited a sense of awe and excitement I’ve not felt in the first episode of a show since Emissary took us though the Bajoran Wormhole. The main story twists away from your conceptions very quickly and what follows almost feels like a catch up not just on the activities of Jean-Luc Picard but also the progress - or maybe lack of it - which has occurred within the Federation. You know that changes are coming up because Picard's Earl Grey is now de-caf and he talks to his dog in French - we ain't in the D anymore...

The rather gritty Federation News Network interview digs deeper than Picard expects and in a rare moment we see anger towards Starfleet and what it has become. In no uncertain terms, Picard is political and represents an unstable world climate. The Federation has stumbled, Starfleet appears to have drifted from its principles and is "broken". It's clear from the FNN interview that we aren't in Kansas any more and by the end of Remembrance it does feel that this message has been firmly nail-gunned home. 

The visuals from start to finish are gorgeous in HD whether we're surveying the Picard vineyards or taking in the vistas of Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco. The future, unfortunately to use a cliche, has never looked better and choosing to run this series with the focus on a sole character plus initially utilise Earth as the main setting has immediately differentiated it from Discovery. How the two will interplay over the next few years will be intriguing given the line we are expecting that show to take and also from the hints of where Picard is already turning.

The choice to spread character introductions over more than one episode is a wise move too and possibly one learnt from Discovery. We get to properly reconnect with Patrick Stewart's retired Picard, then Dahj, Doctor Agnes Jurati at the Daystrom Institute (more on that in a second) and finally Harry Treadaway's suspicious Romulan Narek. It doesn't feel like we're being stuffed with too much information right away and can get to grips with these key players at a reasonable pace. Jurati is a little excitable in the same vein as we might expect from Tilly while Narek fits into the secret agent role taken by Michelle Yeoh on Discovery but as long as they make these characters distinct for the show it won't be too much to deal with after a week or two. 

Even the titles have a spine-tingling feeling to them, including clear images of Borg tech, lots of eyes (focus on the soul...?) and a Cube which all lead into piecing together Jean-Luc in the final shot. 

For newcomers this isn't such a difficult show to follow from episode one but for returning and avid fans there are a load of nods, references and hints to the past. Beyond Chateau Picard, last visited in Family, the FNN news report spins in a couple of episode shots from The Next Generation, that visit to the Daystrom Institute and perhaps importantly we learn that the android in the box is B4. 

There's even a minute of proper fan service by a visit to the Picard collection at the Starfleet Archive collecting together many items recently viewed at Las Vegas and Birmingham's Destination Star Trek. There is one other major reference to The Next Generation during Remembrance but mentioning it is a huge spoiler and one everyone deserves to experience - I'm very excited to see how this might pan out across the next nine episodes!

Star Trek: Picard is a stunning first episode for a series we never expected or knew that we wanted if truth be told. Patrick Stewart without question owns this show from the first scenes on the recreated "dream sequence" Enterprise-D and bizarrely makes the role seem even more natural than we saw 20 years ago. Every fan can be satisfied with the return of Star Trek's most iconic captain and the two decade gap has done nothing to weaken/soften/dilute the power of this return. Remembrance ensures that we can't expect everything to be as straightforward as we have been led to believe. It both honours the past of the franchise and breaks out into new territory and not ground that we've ever covered before. The twists and action of episode one can be merely seen as teasers for what is to come and set up for the story - and it's a journey that I can guarantee I will be on.

What did you think to the season opener? What are your thoughts and expectations?

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Thanks to Chris Groves for assistance with screencaps

Friday, 17 January 2020

Caretaker, Voyager and 25 Years On

A small raider is pounded by phaser fire from a Galor Class starship; a diversion into the Badlands follows, using the plasma storms to slow the Cardassians. 

The Maquis ship is scanned and then hit with an energy wave of unknown origin...and so begins the seven year adventure that was Voyager

Designed as the starship successor to The Next Generation, Voyager still had to be markedly different to that series and from the off it was clear this wouldn’t be as comfy a ride as we were used to. Gone was the familiarity of the Alpha Quadrant, Klingons, Romulans, the Federation and Deep Space Nine with a whole new quarter of the galaxy to explore. 

New allies, new enemies, new worlds to explore and a virtual free reign to create something totally new as the USS Voyager and her mixed crew of Starfleet and Maquis were forced to cooperate to survive and make it 75000 light years back to Earth. 

Caretaker is one of the stronger Star Trek pilots delivering action and adventure in spades and providing a handy contrast to the more spiritual and cerebral Emissary from two years previous. It offered viewers the potential for inter-crew conflict, differences to be settled and a new, formidable enemy to keep the crew on their toes.

Now at the time my Star Trek affiliations leaned more heavily towards the static Deep Space Nine than the pioneering Voyager. Granted, the Kate Mulgrew-led series had a much better first season, it was plagued with temporal anomalies, swirly-things in space and the like plus an odd urge to try and tie things back to the Alpha Quadrant with both the Romulans (Eye of the Needle) and Barclay (Projections - filmed for season one and shown with season two). Deep Space Nine had endured a rocky first season and this was much smoother running; each week a new story as the ship travelled home plus the occasional return of the Vidiians or the Kazon to up the ante and provide some form of continuity that had been missing from The Next Generation for instance.

But by the time Voyager premiered, Deep Space Nine was cutting a distinct mark in the Star Trek universe and was already deep into its third season which would really kick off the ongoing Dominion story arc plus herald the arrival of the popular USS Defiant. There was conflict, the station was host to a variety of characters within the main and secondary cast and this would only go from strength to strength to strength under the watchful eye of Ira Steven Behr.

Voyager on the other hand really had me lost when it came to its continuity and the promise from Caretaker and this wasn't just something that occurred in the first season. As documented and discussed numerous times, the conflict with the Maquis quickly fizzled and it's most evident if you watch Parallax with Torres and Carey and sporadically over the first two seasons from pre-Cardassian Seska and then Jonas as we head towards Basics.

In some respects, Voyager played its first year very, very safe which was a shame after the promise of Caretaker which still holds up today. The Doctor for one is tremendously watchable in his series of fleeting appearances, Kim has something to do and it's not just scan an anomaly, Chakotay has a bit of spark and Paris hasn't been neutered. There's lots bubbling away in that hour and half story which even makes the Ocampa and the fake-Klingons seem interesting. 

Voyager needed to keep its edge and with all the Maquis setup from The Next Generation's Journey's End and Pre-Emptive Strike through Deep Space Nine's The Maquis two parter, the resulting powder keg was flooded with water, only reminding us in Worst Case Scenario and Shattered significantly later in the run that there had actually been two crews in the first place.

Voyager did look great from the off and there are some wondrous gems in the first year; The Phage, Eye of the Needle, State of Flux and maybe add in there Heroes and Demons for the Doctor. These offered standout moments but the uniqueness of Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation isn't there. The sense of separation and reliance on limited supplies doesn't have an impending urgency to it and for me, Voyager only really comes to life when it enters its third season, putting distance between itself, the Kazon and any mouldy cheeses that might be lying around.

Ok so it does the traditional thing of taking a season and a bit to really get going and we can debate Blue Alert, the never ending number of shuttles, Kim’s rank and lizard sex for hours but the fact is that the legacy of Star Trek: Voyager has lasted and, fair play to it, the show launched a network. When Netflix announced which episodes were most watched, it was The Next Generation and Voyager that dominated all ten positions with Endgame as number one most re-watched and the show taking six of the slots. Christ, even Time and Again got in there.

Where Voyager eventually succeeded was in pushing out into more high concept stories and away from a simple story relying on an anomaly or the holodeck (however there would be some exceptions - looking at you, Fair Haven). Check out Blink of an Eye, Living Witness, the mesmerizing Counterpoint and even later episodes like Workforce to see that Voyager became the series where anything went. It's the only series in which a regular is reduced in rank - and it's for more than the length of the episode, for example. It managed to handle lots of standalone stories but still encompassed more than one story arc with the Hirogen, the Borg and the Pathfinder project all offering contained plots along the way.  Interestingly the one that you would have expected to have lasted right to the final episode, that of finding the female Caretaker was firmly closed mid-way through season two with Cold Fire which left the ending very open indeed.

As a crew goes, Voyager is probably full of the most vanilla characters in Star Trek leaving the later seasons firmly in the hands of Janeway, Seven of Nine and the Doctor with the remaining ensemble filling in where necessary. That trio are some of Star Trek's strongest and most memorable creations and were the most heavily explored almost from the second that Seven stepped out of the dry ice in Scorpion, Part II. For many, that was a massive restart for the show although for myself I'd finally succumbed (not to Deep Space Nine levels) with the third season's Future's End as well as season two's brilliant Death Wish and the clever build up to the arrival in Borg space.

For me, Voyager was the series I could go to if there was no Sisko and a wormhole while for many it was top of the list even ahead of Kirk or Picard's adventures and perhaps there's an even bigger indication of how much love Voyager has within fandom over its oddball space station cousin. Janeway turned up in Nemesis and with next week’s arrival of Picard we will see Seven back on screen for the first time since 1999 with rumours already circulating that the Doctor could be putting in an appearance for season two. Any sign of Deep Space Nine characters? Not a word.

So 25 years on and Voyager is still flying strong, demonstrating that Star Trek needed that new frontier, its first female captain and a bold brave step into the Delta Quadrant. What will the effect of the technology it brought back have had on the Federation? Will this be something that we will have explained and explored in the near future?

For now let's just celebrate the last Star Trek series to complete a planned run and not be cancelled short. It is one of only three to date to have a fully planned and realised conclusion and a show that has a plethora of well-constructed episodes that push writing boundaries more than any other Star Trek series. 

Happy 25th Star Trek: Voyager!

What's your memory from watching Caretaker for the first time?

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Monday, 13 January 2020

The Core: The Sign of Four?

Damn rumour mill.

I don't want to credit one of those torrid Facebook pages or YouTube channels that pumps out rubbish but could there be any truth in the rumour that Kruge is being considered as the antagonist for Star Trek 4? Add into that the speculation that Hawley might even take the fourth movie into new directions with a totally new crew.

Director in waiting Noah Hawley is RUMOURED to be thinking about these as possibilities but that will mean for the third out of the four reboot movies the production will rely on retelling stories of characters from the Prime Timeline - Spock and the Romulans then Khan for Into Darkness if he goes with Kruge. In terms of the characters, the suggestion might actually be more based around the difficulty in securing Pine and Hemsworth as billed when the next movie was greenlit before Beyond had even appeared in cinemas. 

Personal opinion - Beyond worked because it did its own thing, referencing the back catalogue and still coming up with something new for the franchise to explore - although tragically it wasn't the massive success fans and the studio desired. I'd add a bucket of salt to that Kruge rumour but the one about the new cast...? Well, it's perhaps more reasonable and might even be a new piece of the Universe that is being forged with Kurtzman and co, bringing the cinematic Star Trek into the bigger picture.

Now if Paramount decide to use the rebooted JJ Abrahms universe to revamp some of its more classic foes then surely there are more opportune characters in the wings? Let's explore a few possibilities...

Kor, Koloth, Kang

I mean is there a more iconic Klingon trio? (Is there another Klingon trio?!). The classic Klingons from The Original Series and latterly Deep Space Nine would be a perfect foil for the Enterprise crew plus it would provide a second and potentially more fulfilling chance to get the Klingons "right" that was missed in their messy Into Darkness appearance.

The Planet Killer

What about this one? A near unstoppable force, a crazed starship captain, the very existence of the Federation at stake? Could the Doomsday Machine be responsible for obliterating a few more notable worlds in the Alpha Quadrant and really change the layout of the Kelvin Timeline? I can certainly imagine that the graphics would be a big step forward and provide an impressive spectacle on the big screen.

The Gorn

Already mentioned in Into Darkness and featured in the video game that launched around the same time as the movie, their sole appearance in The Original Series is as iconic as the filming location the encounter took place at. No more rubber suits but this would guarantee a lot of action and could spin out well from Arena into its own creation. 

I'm just not sure how much faith I put into these kind of rumours because we're not even close to seeing a camera roll or a casting announcement. Thing is that in Star Trek we know anything can happen - after all, a TV series became The Motion Picture and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg here...

Lest we also forget that it's just two weeks until the arrival of Picard and we're already been successfully teased with a morsel of background information through the exceptional Short, Children of Mars.  While there's been all sorts of grumbles about the reuse of starship designs from Discovery I was personally a lot more invested in the narrative and that bit right at the end. 

Anyway, we know that season two of Picard is on the way with a new exec producer in the form of Terry Matalas who is replacing season one's Michael Chabon. Matalas has been show runner on both the TV 12 Monkeys series and more recently MacGyver.

Picard, as Patrick Stewart has indicated, will NOT be The Next Generation and it seems that there is a distinct visual identity being forged with the current slew of Star Trek series. Section 31 is now deep into production and Alex Kurtzman has now confirmed there are a further TWO live action series to come which are in the process of formation now. 

These will sit alongside not just Discovery, Picard and Section 31 but also the Lower Decks animated series and the Nickleodeon cartoon. Might one of these two be the in-demand Pike series? Could the second be the fruition of Nicholas Meyer's project to bring Ceti Alpha V to screens as a miniseries focusing on the exile of Khan Noonien Singh?

The first is one fans have been clamouring for since Anson Mount stepped into the role for Discovery's second season and the latter has been floating around for about four years and was the reason Meyer (apparently) detached himself from Discovery early on.

Fever pitch - we are reaching a real pinnacle of Star Trek but the proof will be in whether or not we can survive what will be a 52 week a year onslaught of content with some form of the franchise being on TV and in production. Does this foreshadow a loss of quality? A time when the amount of content will outweigh the quality of the shows we are receiving? 

Franchise fatigue set in with Enterprise back in the early 2000's and while that was a culmination of continuous Star Trek since 1987 it was spread across 15 years, four series and six movies in that frame. Now we're getting all that again but within five years... will Star Trek from the Kurtzman era have a short shelf life?

What do you think about Star Trek's longevity in its current forms?

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Friday, 10 January 2020

Journey to Picard: Short Trek's Children of Mars

Expectations for Picard are understandably high.

Now with Patrick Stewart's recent revelation that this show is definitely nothing like The Next Generation and that time has definitely moved on (and we mean on and offscreen), Children of Mars is our first, real non-trailer Star Trek that offers an insight into just what will be different about the new series.

Another sub-ten minute tale, Children of Mars contains only a few lines of dialogue early on as school pupils Kima (Ilamaria Ebrahim) and Lil (Sadie Munroe) briefly converse with their mother and father respectively who are both stationed on Utopia Planitia, Mars.

For those in the know, that name will immediately ring bells but for those new to the franchise, it's worth noting that this is one of Starfleet's major ship-building facilities and where the Enterprise-D was constructed. Nicely we've also got a few cool ship shots of the facility swung in here for good measure which should get anyone who's a starship fan into a right tizzy (see bottom!)

Set to a version of David Bowie's Heroes, we see the two girls are not the best of friends, causing each other no end of pain and trouble culminating in an intense fight.

Children of Mars is a beautifully made short, documenting two children from very different backgrounds and cultures with very different relationships with their distant parents. What you do come to see is that both are initially loners, outsiders who aren't "in" possibly due to their absent parents and almost seem to take pride in causing anguish for the other as a form of personal entertainment.

The fight is their Waterloo if you will, a breaking point at which they realise they are potentially more alike than they would readily admit. While the looks from one to another suggests they regret their violent actions, it is an offworld incident that truly draws them together in the closing seconds.

All credit to the two girls here as they have a range of emotions to play out visually with absolutely no words to fall back on to explain their motives and actions. Also to be the focus of an Earth-based Star Trek short that is once more outside the main story is a gem to add context and body to the larger universe which this Kurtzman era seems very focused and dedicated to nurturing. In fact, this marks possibly the biggest step away from the main body of story with only a brief shot of Jean-Luc Picard to tie it in to the upcoming show with any certainly.

We knew that Picard would open our eyes to a different Federation just as the 900 year time jump will do for Discovery and here in Children of Mars we have another twist to the story which explains some of the material we have seen in the trailers and comes totally from left field. Plus, we all noticed the "First Contact Day" celebration banner in the school? How great was it to see a major historical event tied in?!

Mars is attacked by what the news footage refers to as "Synths" leaving at least 3000 dead on the red planet. This may well refer to the "F-8" we saw in the first teaser and may well rope the Borg as well as Data, Lore and B-4 into the Picard story. It's a huge, unforeseen kick and one that sits between this and when we will next see Picard. I'd lean towards this theory rather than these are "reformed" Borg on a rampage and would indicate that humanity's search for android perfection has gone off the scale in the wrong direction.

In fact, it's not hard to see since Admiral Picard's reaction is recorded in the FNN news footage which also contains some shots of attacking ships we have seen in the trailers.  Children of Mars is an absolute kicker, turning our expectations over and revealing that the Federation is not in as rosy a state as we might have thought - and might even be in the first stages of crumbling to the form we have seen it in during the Discovery trailer.

There has to be a link into the inclusion of Alison Pill as a character here too since she is an expert in cybernetics and this story easter egg also adds weight to just why Picard is having visions of Data and visiting the boxed up B-4 (or Lore?). 

For the time being, Children of Mars has become one of the furthest points of continuity in the Star Trek universe behind the destruction of Romulus in flashback during the 2009 reboot and Calypso from last year's four shorts - but this will be eclipsed in a matter of 13 days with the premiere of Picard on January 23rd.

Go watch this one as soon as possible because it's going to be the last, big precursor to the new series especially with the news that issue three of the Picard: Countdown graphic novel has been delayed until the 29th January and therefore after the series has why might that be....secrets revealed too early perhaps...?

Utopia Planitia with two distinct new starship classes front right and left. The docks appear to be an upgrade of the version seen at the end of Nemesis.

Earth shuttleport - the shuttle looks suspiciously like a refresh of the Discovery shuttle.

Synth ships attack Utopia Planitia (note the label bottom left)

Welcome to Picard!!! What are your thoughts on the latest Short?

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