“Ineffable quality.” Without mentioning any spoilers, Picard has exactly that. Everything missing from so many other shows (both in recent memory and currently, especially in terms of reboots, prequels and sequels) is somehow omnipresent in this show, at least in terms of the first episode. Considering that the same director helms the first three episodes, that is incredibly exciting. The pacing, the je ne sais quoi, the characters, the story, the art design… Chabon and company have somehow managed to create a unique show set in the Star Trek universe, unique precisely because of this ineffable quality.
“I do not believe you have acquired the expertise necessary to preserve the essence of those experiences.“ Both critics and fans alike have often felt and expressed this exact sentiment to the show runners, creators, and writers for the many entries in the Star Trek universe created and released after DS9 and prior to Picard.
This quotation comes from the android Data in the TNG episode “The Measure of a Man.” A scientist wants to literally deconstruct and reconstruct Data. If Data undergoes this procedure, he would essentially lose his life experiences but retain his knowledge, losing the thing, the je ne sais quoi, that gives him his identity and consciousness, who he is, and thus losing the very meaning of his life/existence. “There is an ineffable quality to memory which I do not believe can survive your procedure,” Data states.
This statement could well be applied to the most recent television shows and movies set in the Star Trek universe; sure, they had all of the pieces that could make a story set in the Starfleet universe. However, for the most part, the final products of those ventures did not survive the production process to create something that, for lack of a better word, resonates so incredibly strongly with the emotions and memories for those viewers who watched, who were spellbound by, ST:TNG.
The essence, the very soul of what it means to be a Star Trek show has been amiss for a very long time.
Somehow, the creators and actors have imbued Picard with that ineffable quality, and they did so in a manner that makes it look effortless in a television landscape with so many shows that are clearly overwrought (and the worse for it.) I greatly look forward to the rest of the season.
Edit: Feel free to discuss the first episode here with spoilers and everything. I just didn’t want to do that after watching and prevaricating and deliberating over what the experience meant to me. I will put the spoiler banner at the bottom here so that everyone should know that the comments will have spoilers in them.