Observations in PIC: "Stardust City Rag"
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
Here are some observations about sets, props, make-ups and visual effects in PIC: "Stardust City Rag", with special attention to continuity with previous Star Trek series and movies.
The Seven Domes on planet Vergessen (meaning "forgotten" in German) in the Hypatia system. According to Wikipedia, Hypatia was a philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, who was murdered by a mob that "cut out her eyeballs and tore her body into pieces", which is basically what happens to Icheb on the planet.
This scene of a drill coming very close (or touching) an eyeball is similar to the famous nightmare sequence from "Star Trek: First Contact". It can be seen that Icheb's Borg implant close to his left eye has already been removed. Unlike Seven of Nine, whose left human eye had been completely removed by the Borg, Icheb seems to possess a fully functioning organic eye in "Collective". When he was de-Borgified by the Doctor, only the L-shaped Borg implant was left close to his left eye. It is possible that the eye removed from Icheb in "Stardust City Rag", which is clearly not organic, is either an original Borg component made to look organic or an implant created by the Doctor, similar to Seven's human looking eye implant.
Note This scene is extremely graphic. We intentionally left out the most disturbing shots.
We can also notice that the Brunali make-up was faithfully recreated for "Stardust City Rag".
Two of Icheb's Borg implants can be seen in the bowl, in addition to his ocular implant. The L-shaped implant next to his eye can be made out and another implant that was most likely removed from his chest cavity, as can be deduced from other shots. A prominent Borg implant is located here in "Collective". It is also confirmed here that Brunali blood is red.
Seven's ocular implant, created by the Doctor, is prominently shown in "The Gift" and "Timeless", revealing how much of her skull is actually a Borg replacement.
The area of Icheb's head where the "doctor" (called "Chop Doc" in the credits of the episode) is scanning for Icheb's cortical node and later is trying to extract it is indeed the location where it was located both in Icheb's and Seven's cases, as can be seen in the screenshots from "Imperfection". As Icheb donated his cortical node to Seven in that episode, the "doctor" cannot locate it here.
The "medical tools" used by the "doctor" can be seen in these caps from "Stardust City Rag". They look like 21st century power drills. The aforementioned wound (#3) in Icheb's chest is also visible.
Seven turns off the green-tinted holographic display used by the chop doc during the operation on Icheb.
In this flashback set in the year 2386, Icheb is wearing a 2380s Starfleet uniform (also seen on Picard and Raffi in the flashbacks at the beginning of "The End is the Beginning") and Starfleet communicator in use in the 2370s and 2380s. He began wearing that communicator in the Voyager season 7 episode "Q2", set in the year 2378. The actor playing Icheb here bears a striking resemblance to the actor appearing as an adult Icheb in "Shattered" in an altered timeline in the year 2394.
Casey King, the actor playing Icheb in "Stardust City Rag" posted image of himself in an untorn Starfleet uniform with an already removed eye but the still intact Borg implant next to the eye, hinting at deleted or alternate scenes.
The Borg implants on Seven's right cheek and left hand are nicely seen in these caps. The comparison shots from "The Raven", "Retrospect" and "Imperfection" show how her implants have changed over the years.
Seven uses a late 24th century Type 2 phaser to grant Icheb a merciful death. Screen caps from "Star Trek: Nemesis" show what a Type 2 Starfleet phaser looked like when it was last seen in the 24th century.
More Borg parts, including what looks like an arm, torso and head are seen in this screen cap. The spinal column is still attached to the Borg head, similar to the head of the Borg Queen at the end of "Star Trek: First Contact". Severed Borg heads also appeared in VOY: "Unimatrix Zero I".
Futuristic pianos, like the one in the bar in Stardust City, have appeared in several earlier Star Trek episodes, like "Unification II" and "Lessons".
Drones similar to the ones hovering during Picard's interview with FNN, inside the Starfleet Archive Museum and on the Borg artifact in "Remembrance" are seen in the bar, most likely serving drinks.
The outfits worn by Bjayzl and the dancers in her nightclub in this scene are similar to the ones of a cocktail waitress in the San Francisco bar frequented by Doctor McCoy in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock".
Tranya made its first appearance as soon as in "The Corbomite Maneuver" where it was offered to USS Enterprise personnel by Balok aboard his ship, the Fesarius. It was also seen in "Facets" in Quark's Bar where it was ordered by Curzon Dax (in the body of Odo) for himself and Benjamin Sisko. A bowl of tranya showed up in the Orion bar in "Will You Take My Hand?" (with Clint Howard, who already appeared as Balok, playing the Orion). In all three cases, the drink appeared a little more orange and not as yellow as it does here.
Picard watches an ad for Freecloud on a holographic display. The Bolian salesman, fighting robot and dancing girl, as they will be visible more prominently later in the episode, already appear here. The display has a much more noticeable LCARS interface than previously in Picard's study, like in "Maps and Legends".
The holographic projector on Picard's desk can be nicely seen in this screen cap. A different device used by Dr. Jurati in her quarters aboard La Sirena appears later in the episode. Also seen is a bowl of candy that originally seems to have been used as an ashtray.
The switches on the wall to the left of Seven seem particularly old-fashioned.
Two bottles of Château Picard are visible on the sideboard. The painting on the left in Picard's study is "Foreigners Riding Along the Coast at Takanawa in the Eastern Capital" by Utagawa Hiroshige II.
The upper picture on the right is a sketch by Cherubino Alberti called "Two Draped Figures".
A black and white photo of Picard is visible behind Seven of Nine. This photo was on display at the Picard exhibition in the summer of 2019. It's supposed to show Ensign John-Luc Picard in the year 2330. A young Ensign Picard was also seen in "Tapestry".
The Borg implant close to Seven's left eye is seen particularly well in this cap and another one from later in the episode. The implants look slightly different from the way they did on Voyager, as can be seen when comparing these shots with shots from "The Gift", "Scientific Method" and "Imperfection". On Voyager, the color of the metal implants also changed over the years and the piece next to the left eye is removed in "Retrospect" and "Equinox II", showing the real implants underneath what just seems to be a protective covering.
After drinking just one glass of champagne in "Timeless", Seven of Nine was drunk. Things have changed as she certainly can "hold her liquor" now, to quote Voyager's EMH.
According to the datafile on Gabriel Hwang, he was born on Mars, on Hellas Planitia, to be precise. Whereas Utopia Planitia is on the northern hemisphere of Mars, Hellas Planitia is on the southern hemisphere. The northern half of the large Hellas impact basin can be seen at the bottom-right hand side of the shot from "The End is the Beginning". Hwang was born on Stardate 51554.3788. This puts his birth in the year 2374, at the time of Voyager season 4 and DS9 season 6. According to his datafile, he was vaccinated against tetanus, typhoid and the Andorian flu about a year later. He has Federation Security number 0593-493-293 and is employed by Freebank.
The holographic interfaces recalls two-dimensional interfaces seen on the original Star Trek and Star Trek: Enterprise.
The warp effect on the bridge of La Sirena is very different from the way it looked on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D. But we saw something similar in VOY: "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" (and, of course, consistently like that in the Discoveryverse).
All kinds of alien eggs have appeared in over 50 years of Star Trek, like 'Owon eggs in TNG: "Time Squared", Taspar eggs in TNG: "Chain of Command II" or Porakan eggs in VOY: "Flashback". "Stardust City Rag" is one of the rare occasions where regular Earth chicken eggs are shown.
John Ales takes over the role of Dr. Bruce Maddox. In TNG: "The Measure of a Man", the character was played by Brian Brophy.
Bolians, like the one in this ad, first appeared in the TNG episode "Conspiracy". Even though Bolians have consistently been various shades of blue, Captain Rixx appeared distinctively red, due to the lighting on the planet, when he was first seen on Dytallix B. The Bolian head features characteristic dark blue stripes, also seen on the red Bolian's head. These stripes were only added to the make-up beginning with the first season of DS9. Earlier Bolians, like Mr. Mot (a little more on him later) did not feature those blue stripes.
The tool the red Bolian is holding is based on a tool seen in countless DS9 and VOY episodes. It started out as a barcode reader in the season 1 DS9 episode "Progress". It then mutated to a medical tool on DS9, used as such in the first four seasons of the show. Then it started to show up as an engineering tool in the final three seasons. It was then moved over to Voyager, where it used to be an engineering tool in the final two seasons of the show. In "Alice", it still appeared as it did on DS9 but for the final season of VOY, the prop was modernized, getting a black grip and a new LCARS display. It was finally sold by It's a Wrap!.
Due to his fondness for Earl Grey tea (and due to him forgetting to delete all cookies I suppose), Picard receives an ad for high tea at the Freecloud Grand Hotel, which amuses him.
Dr. Jurati's ad is for the "Freecloud Institute of Entertainment Robotics". It features a boxing robot that needs to be punched in the head in order for the ad to stop. Boxing has previously been seen on Star Trek in "Q-less" and "The Fight", while a heavily armed (possibly) robotic warrior also appeared in "Business as Usual".
In a very short amount of time (only a few seconds) the position of La Sirena in orbit of Freecloud has markedly changed.
Raffi's ad for Feely's Venom Garden features a holographic spokesperson looking similar to the one seen in the ad for Freecloud in "The End is the Beginning". It seems the same CG model was used in both episodes. In "Stardust City Rag", the link to drugs was made much more obvious. The character is now wearing sunglasses, a different hat and a rainbow batik shirt. He's holding a cigar (instead of throwing dice, as in the previous ad), a snake (most likely a reference to snakeleaf) is slung around his neck and a hookah, a grinder featuring a cannabis leaf and some drugs, most likely also cannabis, are seen next to him. He also appears green, so he might be supposed to be an Orion.
Raffi looks at Dr. Maddox's datafile. Sadly, in contrast to the datafile about her son, nearly none of the information is legible. It can be made out that he was born in "San Francisco on Earth". "Earth, Sol system" is also legible.
Shots with all of the main cast present on the bridge at the same time are rare. On TNG, this happened in "Justice" and "Ménage à Troi", for example.
A floating bazaar/pleasure district was previously seen in the Enterprise episode "Rajiin".
The billboards on the buildings in Stardust City are filled with in-jokes and references to previous Star Trek episodes and films.
- Two fighting robots, similar to the one fighting Dr. Jurati earlier in the episode, are visible on the left. The dancer seen earlier in the ad for Freecloud Picard watched in his study, can be made out in the background.
- The red Bolian from earlier in the episode (now in blue) appears on the left.
- A green symbol appears on the outside wall of a building at the bottom of the screen. It looks like the so called "Cool S".
- Ads for Feely's Venom Garden and the Freecloud Grand Hotel appear on top of a building. Both were seen earlier in the episode on the bridge of La Sirena.
- What looks like Godzilla can be seen on the top of the building at the right side of the screen. A similar monster appeared on a TV screen in the Voyager episode "Future's End I".
- Several flying cars of the same type are seen in the sky in this sequence.
- Mr. Mot's Hair Emporium is a reference to the Bolian barber aboard the USS Enterprise-D, first seen in "Ensign Ro". He is one of the early Bolians without the dark blue head stripes (see also #25). The scene was filmed at Universal City Walk in Hollywood.
- On the left, there is an establishment called "Quark's Bar". The motto of the bar is "What is yours is ours". This is a pun referencing the motto of the planet Risa, heard in "Captain's Holiday" and "Let He Who Is Without Sin..." which is "All that is ours is yours". On top of the word "BAR" we can recognize a Ferengi tongo wheel. This is the large variety of the game seen whenever Quark played with other Ferengi. The game first appeared in "Rules of Acquisition". The location of Quark's Bar is usually a Dongpo Restaurant in the building at Universal City Walk. The five signs featuring the letters that make up Quark's name are also present in real life, featuring Chinese writing.
- An ad for Dabo and an actual holographic Dabo wheel is seen on the left side of the screen. A dabo wheel was present in Quark's Bar since the beginning of DS9. The post with the Dabo sign usually holds a sign for the Hollywood Plaza in real life.
- To the right of the Dabo ad, the croupier from the ad for Freecloud that also appeared in "The End is the Beginning" can be seen. It is the original CG character from that episode and not the modified character from Feely's Venom Garden as earlier in "Stardust City Rag".
- Similar holographic dancers like the one in the background also appeared on Qo'noS above the entrance to the Orion bar in "Will You Take My Hand?".
A black and white photo can be seen on the sideboard. The photo shows Picard with Mark Twain. The photomontage was originally created for The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard by David A. Goodman. The composite uses a photo of Picard in the clothes he wore in "Time's Arrow II" and a photo of Mark Twain, originally with John T. Lewis.
Next to the photo, a South American or Meso-American sculpture can be seen. A similar sculpture appeared in Picard's quarters in "Bloodlines". The large painting above the sculpture seems to be a Baroque tapestry showing people in a garden.
An alien bouncer looks on as Rios is scanned before he can enter the club. An alien of the same species was seen on the Borg cube in "Maps and Legends". Rios is lighting his cigar with the same lighter he used aboard La Sirena in "The End is the Beginning".
A humanoid bar patron with holographic wings appears in this shot.
Another hovering drone, similar to the ones in previous episodes, appears in this shot.
When Rios orders a drink, he also orders a game tablet, which is briefly seen in this shot.
Seen in the foreground if this shot is a FADO lamp as sold by IKEA. Several lamps of this type can be found in the nightclub. The light bulb contains an LED element imitating a filament and is also available in the big furniture store.
Rios's drink, a Temtibi Lagoon, can be seen next to the lamp in this shot. The drink is named after the tourist destination on Risa visited by assorted members of the DS9 crew in "Let He Who Is Without Sin...". The color of the drink echoes the twin sunset over the Temtibi Lagoon at the end of the episode. Rios orders his drink with two umbrellas. The miniature umbrellas are transparent, like the real umbrellas in "Remembrance".
Mr. Vup's pistol can be nicely seen in this shot.
This is the first appearance of a hypospray or an injector on the show. A cap from "Ex Post Facto" shows what hyposprays looked like earlier in the 24th century.
A photo of Picard in younger years is visible behind Rios. This is a photo of cadet Jean-Luc Picard, originally created for The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard by David A. Goodman.
Rios shows a scan of various Borg implants in Seven's body to Vup. Seen are the implant next to her left eye, the implant next to her right ear, seen earlier in the episode, several spine enhancing implants, the Borg enhancement of her left hand, also seen earlier in the episode and what seems to be an artificial Borg heart. Picard also has an artificial heart, as we know from "Samaritan Snare" and "Tapestry". Another Borg implant underneath Seven's heart cannot really be made out. Curiously missing is her cortical node, donated to her by Icheb in "Imperfection", which still played a role in the teaser of "Stardust City Rag". A scan of Seven's body and head, showing various Borg implants and a graphic of the cortical node, also appeared in the Voyager episode.
The Temtibi Lagoon, including the transparent umbrellas, and the IKEA lamp can also be seen nicely in this sequence of screenshots.
Characters with eyepatches have been seen in several earlier Star Trek series and films. Klingon General Chang had an eyepatch permanently affixed to his skull in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". Falcon in Julian Bashir's holoprogram in "Our Man Bashir" also wore an eyepatch (both the original version and the one played by O'Brien). The Takarian bard in "False Profits" was another character with an eyepatch, sometimes on his right and sometimes on his left eye.
Raffi is holding a very small pattern enhancer. In the past, pattern enhancers usually came in a set of three and were a much larger device. The device is known from numerous TNG and VOY episodes.
Futuristic handcuffs have also appeared in several previous episodes, including "Canamar" and "Blaze of Glory".
The alien bouncer in the club has two tentacular appendages at the back of his head. They can be seen a little better in "Maps and Legends" on another member of the species.
Mr. Vup is a member of the Beta Annari species. The Annari of the Delta Quadrant (maybe "Delta Annari"?) were seen in the Voyager episodes "Nightingale" and "The Void". The two species can't possibly be related but share some facial similarities, especially in the region above the eyebrows. Beta Annari lack hair, have different eyes and teeth and have very reptilian qualities, however.
Rios receives payment in form of a small red chip. A chip of similar size and shape is later left by Seven of Nine when she departs La Sirena.
Raffi finds the location of her son using a small holographic projector.
The transporter console is seen for the first time in this episode. It also appears a little later when Dr. Jurati looks at it. It seems only five people can be beamed at the same time with the transporter platform of La Sirena. The basic layout of the transporter control display is still the same as it was on TNG ("The Next Phase"), Voyager ("Darkling") and in the other Star Trek shows and films.
What looks like a Romulan/Vulcan baby and a human baby can be seen on the video screens at Stardust City Reproductive Health Services. A chair can be spotted on the left in the background. Similar chairs appeared in the Sikla Medical Facility on Malcor III in TNG: "First Contact". In real life, this is a Corona chair designed by Poul Volther in 1964. See also Commercially Available Chairs in Star Trek.
Raffi's son is holding a PADD in this scene. This PADD looks different from the ones used by the reporters in "Remembrance" and the 2380s Starfleet PADDS used by Picard and Raffi in "The End is the Beginning".
The body and facial movements of Raffi's son Gabriel, played by Mason Gooding, clearly do not match the dialogue in this scene. It seems an earlier take was dubbed using different dialogue.
Gabriel Hwang's wife is a Romulan called Pel with a very traditional Romulan haircut as it can be seen "Timescape", for instance.
Human-Romulan hybrids are only known from two previous cases: Simon Tarses (one quarter Romulan) in "The Drumhead" and Tasha Yar's daughter Sela (half Romulan) in "Redemption I+II" and "Unification I+II". In both cases, the part-Romulan characters did not feature Romulan forehead ridges at all. In the past, it was implicitly assumed that the Romulan forehead ridge must be a recessive trait so none of the hybrid offspring possesses it. Now, as Romulans without forehead ridges like on TOS have also appeared in the 24th century, it is an equally valid assumption that Tarses's grandfather and Sela's father were simply ridgeless Romulans (="Southerners") explaining why their offspring do not have ridges.
The silhouette of a horned dancer can be seen in the background. The only humanoid alien with horns was Lucien from the TAS episode "The Magicks of Megas-tu". In "Devil's Due", the imposter Ardra briefly transformed into a traditional devil who also wore horns.
A good look at the size of the main deck aboard La Sirena featuring numerous cargo crates featuring the logo of the ship.
It seems as if the pistol of one of Bjayzl's bodyguards is not turned on, as only the pistol held by the bodyguard on the right is illuminated. A little later in this scene, both pistols are lit red.
The handheld pattern enhancer is seen a little better in this shot. It features a stylized transporter platform on its bottom. The top side appears a little later in the episode when Rios puts it on the transporter console.
Mr. Vup extends his hidden gun, shortly before he is shot by Rios.
The full transporter console is visible in this shot. As can be seen, the pattern on the actual transporter platform matches the pattern depicted as part of the transporter console.
The small card Seven gives Picard possibly features the emblem of the Fenris Rangers.
An assortment of weapons and tools in La Sirena's armory. Like in the previous episode, white cargo crates in the background display the logo of La Sirena.
Like earlier in the episode when customers were simply beaming down right into the nightclub (where people are moving all the time), here they are seen beaming away.
Seven kills Bjayzl by vaporizing her with a Type 3 phaser rifle. People were previously seen dying because of a Starfleet phaser set to vaporize (or disintegrate) in "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" when Captain Terrell shot himself and in "The Vengeance Factor" when Riker reluctantly had to kill Yuta.
Seven shoots her way out of the nightclub using two Type 3 phaser rifles. The rifle is identical to the one held by Raffi at the end of "Maps and Legends". Screenshots from "Star Trek: First Contact" and DS9: "Empok Nor" illustrate what phaser rifles previously looked like in the 24th century.
These screenshots show the sickbay on La Sirena. Several small microscopes with a screen appear in this scene. Similar microscopes showed up in several earlier Star Trek series and films, as the cap from "The Vengeance Factor" demonstrates. The sickbay of La Sirena also continues another tradition, namely that of carts on wheels seen countless times in various sickbays, as for instance on the Enterprise-D in "Evolution".
Most screen caps from TrekCore and Trek Caps. Special thanks to Rick Sternbach, who designed the engineering/medical tool and graciously provided us with a sketch of the original barcode reader. Thanks to TrekCore for the hint about the Universal City Walk and to Andreas Reitz for the hint about the IKEA lamp.