Jean-Luc Picard enjoys the finer things in life as an enlightened man of the 24th century. A little flute music. A little tea that tastes like soap. Some nice wine. He’s allowed an indulgence after all he’s been through. But I am... concerned at some of his new meal options coming into Star Trek: Picard season 2.
As we await Patrick Stewart’s return for round two in Star Trek: Picard, showrunner Terry Matalas has been sharing cryptic on-set pictures from filming on social media. No big reveals in sight, but a recent snap of an LCARS menu for what Matalas calls ‘Picard’s Replicator’, specifically, has been unable to leave my head for the past few days. Despite Matalas saying it’s Picard’s replicator, this is presumably the replicator aboard La Sirena, because several items match for food items mentioned aboard the ship in season one. But where this replicator is isn’t any of my concern. It’s what’s on that menu.
It’s an eclectic mix—of course, a starship’s replicator can recreate millions of items of food and drink from the cultures of the Federation, so this is obviously not the end sum of everything in its digitized kitchen. But all the options here, presumably from a list of recently-replicated items, at least speak to someone like Picard’s well-to-do French upbringing. There’s multiple filets of fresh fish, diced tomatoes and a few fingerlings, the ability to just replicate three whole cloves of garlic (presumably Jean-Luc Picard subscribes to the universal theory as there never being such a thing as too much garlic for a dish). The peppermint ice cream is a nice little touch, something sweet and indulgent but not too indulgent, especially for someone as reserved as Picard—he can leave the sundaes to Deanna.
But then there are the French Fries. Fries are a staple of Starfleet replicators—we see Number One order some with her burger in Star Trek: Discovery season two, and even before replicators were standard technology aboard ships, the Enterprise’s galley served meals with fries as a side. If you take a closer look at the entry on Picard’s replicator, however, you see that a serving of fries gives you 400 grams of fried potato. Jean-Luc, my friend, I know you just got that robot body and want to test it out, but that’s too many fries for a man in his nineties! That’s twice the amount of fingerling potatoes you’d get requesting from this replicator. You’d get as many diced tomatoes, a significantly healthier option.
Or is it? We’ve known from past asides in Star Trek that replicators, or at least specifically Starfleet replicators, have modified nutritional content so that while crewmembers can order what would typically be seen as unhealthy meals, they’re still relatively nutritionally balanced for physically fit people aboard military and scientific exploration vessels. Deanna maligned that her aforementioned replicated sundaes never quite hit the same as a real one aboard the Enterprise-D, because the replicator modified them for nutritional value. In Picard’s first season, Doctor Jurati tried to induce vomiting to eject a Romulan tracker by eating two slices of cake the size of her head from La Sirena’s replicator, hoping the sugar and fat would do the job—but even if they weren’t as unhealthy as the real thing, two slices of cake that big would get anyone feeling queasy afterward regardless. So nearly a pound of french fries is probably not going to do Picard too good, even if they’re not ‘real’ fries.
Clearly, all my immersion going into Star Trek: Picard season two has been fundamentally compromised by this grievous error on the part of Matalas, ViacomCBS, Alex Kurtzman, and many set designers and artists. How can I enjoy Picard and Q if I just know a ginormous pile of replicated fries is awaiting Picard when he’s done? I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a lot of things in Star Trek—floating space heads, theoretical FTL travel turning you into a horny lizard, that you can teach a Ferengi the concept of bunting. But this nutritional nightmare for a Trek legend is just a step too far, and I can’t wait to be furious as to how Star Trek: Picard season two grapples with this terrible mistake, because there almost certainly won’t be anything more important to deal with.
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