So here we are, the second episode in one of the most anticipated SciFi series of the year, if not decade. With the incredible episode from last week the expectations for this weeks continuation is certainly high, so how does it stack up? Well, let’s find out shall we? Be warned, there are some spoilers for last weeks episode and there will be some revelations concerning this weeks episode as well. Tread lightly if you want to avoid spoilers.
Personal Log Earth date 2399: Maps and Legends
Continuing from last weeks episode, Picard is on a desperate search for more information regarding the now deceased Dahj. Declined help from Star Fleet, Picard must use his remaining contacts to begin to build his new crew for one final mission.
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
As with most serialized television series, the second episode stutters a little but only when you walk in with the wrong expectations. Knowing what you are in for, Maps and Legends is a genuinely solid episode with an incredible amount revelation, firmly establishing that this series is more of a drama than an action series like that of Discovery (or even STNG at times). To fully appreciate this episode you accept that Star Trek is no longer the episodic franchise it once was and know that all of the answers will not be revealed at the end of each installment, nor should they be. That being said, this almost should have been part of a two hour series premiere instead of splitting it up into two episodes. The episode felt short and almost at a breakneck pace that really only managed to move the plot forward in small, chess like moves. Although only a full two minutes shorter than the pilot, by the end we sat staring at the screen wondering why it ended so quickly.
Regardless, the episode is full of mystery that builds with even more questions and much more intrigue. In a way, we are witnessing the very first Star Trek detective story with Dahj as the victim and Picard finally getting to be Dixon Hill in real life making this something special indeed. Aided by his Romulan housekeepers, who we learn were once Tal Shiar (and you would have known that had you read Picard Countdown from IDW), you get a much deeper appreciation for both Laris and Zhaban, played by Orla Brady and Jamie McShane respectively. There is an implied deeper history here that isn’t even covered in the comic series indicating that these two are not only there to care for Picard but also to protect him from something…or someone. Brady and McShane are incredible actors who practically own the screen in every moment making their characters feel as if they have been with us since the very moment Picard stepped foot on the Enterprise. I have to say, if anything happens to them, I will be very dissapointed.
We also get a chance to know Soji (the twin of Dahj and possibly Data’s daughter as played by Isa Briones) and Narek (Harry Treadway). While I am not certain about their characters yet, the two do a great job diving in to their roles giving us some interesting hints of their separate motivations. Their story elements are brief but the connections with the larger narrative are abundant. This makes it clear that there is so much more to them than meets the eye and for that I am fascinated by their story, what little we have seen.
Chabon and Goldsman know their Trek history writing a narrative that it not is only responsible for filling on 20 years of history but providing a strong story following one of the most famous Captain’s in Star Fleet. Not only are they painfully aware of their responsibility treading on entirely new ground, they embrace this responsibility with open arms giving us something truly fascinating. Led by director Hanelle Cullpepper, this and the first episode are the perfect setup for what appears to be an epic tale for the relic that is Jean Luc Picard.
Overall, Maps and Legends is a solid entry and one that promises some significant action in the episodes to come and even manages to explain why certain former Enterprise members are missing from the story. It is a growing narrative that looks to only be about to ramp up when a certain former first officer returns not just on screen, but behind the camera as well. You know we will be here to talk about the upcoming episodes so be sure to come back next week!
Observation Deck: Lots of SPOILERS HERE SO BE WARNED
The episode opens with a first hand view of the disaster at the Utopia Planitia Shipyards on Mars. Following a group of workers, we finally see a deeper look at the actual events of the Synth uprising which has shaken not only Jean Luc but the Federation itself to the core. Tattooed with their designations on their hairless heads, these androids are very unlike the Soong Androids we are used to. It is abundantly clear that they are more B4 than Data in their intellect and it heavily implies that they were not entirely at fault in the actual events that took place 14 years prior to the series. I won’t go into detail but it is an intriguing revelation none the less.
We learn of a deeper shadow government withing the Romulan Empire known in legends as the Zhat Vash. Dismissed as a Tal Shiar myth by most, it seems that they are a deeper group who predated the Tal Shiar and have even infiltrated the very foundations of every government throughout the galaxy. They keep a deep secret implying that they may indeed be the foundations or even the inspiration of Section 31 themselves. We learn that this shadow organization has a deep loathing for synthetic life making me wonder if this does not connect directly with Discovery Season 2 and the advent of Control. It would be a great way to connect the series giving Discovery even more weight in the ‘future’ and inserting it’s relevance into the rest of the series in a clever way.
Through the revelation of the existence of the Zhat Vash we discover that the Federation itself has been infiltrated by the Romulans themselves who are operating in the upper ranks under the guise of Vulcan and human officers. It is heavily implied that the dark turn the Federation has taken with their apathy toward other species might have a deeper and darker reason behind it making it all the more critical that Picard succeed in his personal mission.
One moment I absolutely loved was the inclusion of yet another of Picard’s past friends but one that we have never met before. Instead of bringing a member of the Enterprise back we are introduced to someone else from the Star Gazer giving this series and in turn this universe a much larger feel to it. The fact that the writers acknowledge that everything has to return to TNG makes me very excited to see what other subtle and wonderful revelations of Picard’s past will be revealed.
The sign in the Borg Cube said that they had gone 5843 days without an assimilation making this event take place approx 16 years after the cube was first reclaimed indicating that the Romulan’s had the cube some two years prior to the destruction of their home planet and the attack on Mars. Could their operation had something to do with the syth attack? Could this have been the very cube that Lore had taken over in Descent parts one and two.
Update: One other quick observation. If you look in the background you will notice the blue skinned Andorians. This is one of the few times in the TNG era that Andorians have shown up despite being a founding race of the Federation. Hopefully this means we will finally get an Andorian as a regular character seeing that we have only seen that in the series Enterprise.
You can watch this episode now on CBSAllAccess. Do it now. It is well worth it. Below are a few shots from the next episode to whet your whistle, till next week!
Thanks for reading the SciFi TV Review I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you!
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Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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Late To The Game 1/30/2020