In the nineteenth episode of the third season of The Next Generation, Picard goes on vacation. Honestly. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For objectification of women
Oh, y’all, I wanted this to be so much better than it was. The idea is intriguing and hilarious, and right up to the Vorgans’ first confrontation with Picard, I thought this was going to become one of the silliest episodes of The Next Generation. That promise quickly fizzled when the writers decided to make this a serious and wandering buried treasure tale that didn’t really feel all that meaningful to me. I know that I was a bit biased from the beginning because the idea of Picard on vacation is just so GREAT.
And then it is great. SO FUCKING GREAT. What if this episode was forty minutes of every single member of this crew dropping incredibly unsubtle references to Picard needing shore leave? What if it was just forty minutes of Dr. Crusher and Picard flirting with each other? What if?
But I don’t actually expect the episode to be that. What I thought we were getting here was an absurd madcap adventure where Picard spends the majority of the episode trying to just find somewhere to relax. And through the first two acts, that’s exactly what we got. Picard finally agrees to shore live on the planet of Risa, a place that seems built out of one of Riker’s wet dreams. It was really uncomfortable at first because the camera seemed to constantly linger on all the scantily clad women without doing the same for any of the men. Like, there was totally a dude with a huge bulge walking in the background at point! Why not focus on him? (We know the answer to that question.)
I don’t mind exploring a sexual relationship of Picard’s, but this seemed egregious. Thankfully, that’s not the main focus of the episode. No, it’s the revolving door of random characters who all keep interrupting Picard whenever he just tries to read his book. First, Vash kisses him in order to distract Sovak, a lovely start to Picard’s adventure. What I enjoyed about this is that it set a very specific mood for the episode: Picard was going to be CONSTANTLY annoyed by everyone around him. I AM IN SUPPORT OF THIS. We see that when one of the workers on Risa (would she count as a sex worker?) interprets the Horgan that Picard bought for Riker as an invitation for attention. Granted, most of the irritation is directed at Riker, but still! Sovak’s confrontation follows this, and by that point, I thought that the script for “Captain’s Holiday” was going to follow this pattern. Vash annoys Picard, so much so that he actually gets up and leaves, eager to find some solitude.
So what does he find then? A pair of aliens scanning his room. Oh, and they’ve been waiting for him. Oh, and they’re from the fucking future. THIS IS THE PERFECT SET UP FOR A WACKY MADCAP COMEDY, AND THAT’S NOT WHERE THE EPISODE GOES. Look, I know it’s not an easy thing to deal with when you expect a story to go a certain way and it doesn’t. Part of that is on me; it’s my perception of events. But I don’t think that’s entirely on me. Look, the end of the second act is fucking hilarious. After Picard has just spent ten minutes trying to defend his precious solitude, two aliens show up in his room to announce that they’re from the future. I half expected Picard to just throw his hands up and ask where the camera was. Because this had to be a practical joke, right???
Unsurprisingly, I was not that big of a fan of what followed. Instead of a relaxing shore leave, Picard gotâ€¦ a mediocre treasure hunt? One of the most poorly written side characters of all time? (Seriously, what the fuck is with Sovak’s characterization? Why does he cackle so much? Why does he talk like that? Why does he constantly go from acting like a mustache-twirling villain to a giddy teenager? He’s so inconsistent!) A twenty minute reference to the Indiana Jones series? An entire sequence where all the action is two people digging a giant pit in the dirt?
This is just not very good. And it’s often confusing! If the Vorgans knew that Picard’s destiny was to destroy the Uthat, why antagonize him while he has it??? Wouldn’t that push him towards his destiny instead of away from it? What purpose does Sovak serve beyond poorly timed comic relief? This was not a terrible episode, but in comparison with the six episodes that came before it, it’s a bit of a disappointment.
The video for “Captain’s Holiday” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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