Three episodes in and the secrets of Picard still continue to unfold like that of an origami flower. While it is abundantly clear we are still in story setup mode the show continues to drive forward although more on impulse than warp speed at this point. Still, some solid setup and things seem to be about to really get going. Let’s talk shall we?
After being shot down by the Federation, Jean Luc begins pulling together his team to find and possibly rescue Data’s possible ‘Daughter’ Soji Asha. Pulling some old strings, Picard reunites with an old friend and makes a few new one’s along the way. Meanwhile, Soji begins to learn more about her Romulan…employers?
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
A lot of people are going to complain about this one but for a series like this that is to be expected. While the pacing is on par with the last two episodes it finally feels like we are getting off the ground as Jean Luc finally manages to pull a rag tag group together to get to his destination. What we haven’t really realized yet is, Picard really doesn’t know where he’s going and that almost echoes in the series pacing itself. While I have complete faith that all of this setup will pay off in the end, at this point I feel like I am as lost as Jean Luc is and, as far as I know, I don’t have the initial symptoms of irumodic syndrome.
While it was surprising that the pacing was still this slow three episodes in, I have to give it credit where credit is due, this episode is jam packed with lore and, in traditional Star Trek fashion, direct analogies to today’s troubled times. I will go into detail below in the Observation deck so if you want to get into the details please stick around. Once again writers Michael Chambon and James duff with Director Hanelle Culpepper do a tremendous job spinning a multilayered story while filling us in with things that have come to pass. I will say, as I said in the previous review, that this one felt more like a segment of a feature length film that honestly would have made for a tremendous double length pilot but I get why they chose to break the episodes up. I mean, they gotta make this last don’t they?
We are introduced to a few more characters this time around so, while the pacing was a little slow it was great building the cast. First we meet with Raffi Musiker played by the incredible Michelle Hurd. Raffi has some history with Jean Luc (even referring to him as ‘JL’) and you can get a head start in her story by reading the IDW comics Picard Countdown. In just one episode I find myself already connected to Raffi and frankly I look forward to more of her adventure. This connection is solely due to Hurd’s incredible performance making her character feel as if we have known her as long as JL has.
Next up we are reacquainted with an old friend in the form of Hugh the former Borg who we have not seen since Decent part I and II in STNG. I won’t go into detail with his appearance but it was great to see Jonathan Del Arco back as the lost Borg who seems to have really come a long way since his days dealing with Lore. Finally we meet Cristobal Rios, the ‘ship for hire’ Captain not unlike a certain browncoat. Played by Santiago Cabrera, Rios has an interesting character quirk that we will talk about further below.
Overall, I really had a good time with this one as the story builds a great mytho…err shared narrative framework that the rest of the series is to be built on. Every great skyscraper has a solid foundation and with the foundation being built here I imagine we will get a structure unlike anything we have ever seen in the Star Trek franchise. There is a lot to like in Star Trek Picard you just have to be patient as it sets the concrete.
Observation Deck: Lots of SPOILERS AND SPECULATION HERE SO BE WARNED
We open the episode with a great flashback to 14 years prior seeing the moments just after Jean Luc Picard’s resignation. In this moment we truly meet Raffi for the first time on the screen (not counting the brief moment in the previous episode) giving her character a deep connection to our hero. Raffi apparently has a skill when it comes to ‘getting information’, a skill I am sure will be handy later. One thing we get here is a real sense of Picard’s realization of how much the Federation and Star Fleet have fallen due to fear. Much like today’s political climate and rampant Nationalism Jean Luc nails it on the head when he states ‘I never dreamed that starfleet would give into intolerance and fear…’ Truer words, JL, Truer words….
With Hugh making his first appearance on the series we learn that he is not just a former Borg or ‘xB’ as they are refereed to by others, he is in fact the Executive Director of the Reclamation Project giving him some serious pull with the Romulans on the Borg Cube. I have to wonder what deal he made with the Romulans and what his endgame really is. It also makes me wonder if his true mission is not going to clash with Picard’s own, inadvertently making Hugh an enemy in the long run. Clearly he knows more about Soji that we suspect and even allows her to interact with another xB…one that claims that Soji is in fact The Destroyer.
So, let’s talk about this Destroyer Bit. We get a great back and forth moment with Picard (and his Tal Shiar friends) interrogating a Zhat Vash while Soji talks to an xB. During this back and forth both the Zhat Vash and the former Borg refert to Soji as ‘THE DESTROYER’ making me wonder…the destroyer of what? The Federation, the Zhat Vash, The borg…the status quo? Conan the Destroyer? I don’t know but it was a great moment.
Speaking of the interrogation, we get to see Zhaban and Ramdha in full Tal Shiar action even showing that they have been expecting an attack for some time having hidden weapons all over the Chateu. We also get a reasonable explanation for the differences in Romulan head physiology. The answer…they come from different regions of Romulus. Simple really. To be honest I think this was a subtle setup for them to ‘explain’ the horrendous Klingnots from Discovery. I mean, If we can accept that Romulans from different regions look different then…nope. Sorry guys, not THAT different. Fix the damned Klingons will ya?
In addition to the awesome Tal Shiar fight, we get reacquainted with the foremost expert of cybernetics one Dr Agnes Jurati. When we see her again she is approached by Zhat Vash operative Commodore Oh and then conveniently shows up with a Zhat Vash attack force at Picard’s Vineyard. Makes me think she is an obvious plant and we will get an even more obvious betrayal and retribution arc from her. I hope this isn’t the case but damn is it telegraphed all over the screen. Plus, what is the deal with Oh’s sunglasses…is she really TRYING to be the Romulan MIB or what?
I mentioned above that Captain Rios has an interesting quirk, well we find out that Cristobal Rios is not only a former Star Fleet officer but has a sever case of PTSD when it comes to his Federation past. Due to that he literally staffs his ship with an EMH of…well…versions of himself. Interestingly Rios was the Executive Officer aboard a Starfleet Heavy Cruiser named the ibn Majid which Starfleet ‘erased’ from the records. Whatever happened there was pretty serious as, while he still embodies the core of Star Fleet, he is bitter towards his former employer for something that damaged him irreparably. As for the EMH holograms appearances, it is clear that holograms were never accepted as sentient and were also never banned by the Federation. This makes me kinda sad for the Doctor on Voyager as he likely never got his freedom from being considered Federation property.
Finally, Raffi joins the crew to get to a place called ‘Freecloud’. As far as we can tell it is a gambling facility of some sort and I have to say, when they get there a certain Ferengi Bartender better be running the joint or I am going to be sorely dissapointed.
One thing I was surprised at is that we haven’t run across Riker or Troi yet. I have to wonder if their appearance will be another flashback like we have seen in the past two episodes filling in the past 20+ years. Plus the next two episodes are directed by Jonathan Frakes (something I misspoke on last time, as I thought this one was going to be one of his).
BUT WAIT! You haven’t talked about Rios’ ship yet. Nope. I haven’t. I have a feeling that is going to be a subject of next week’s review…
as usual, there is a sneak peek of next weeks episode at the bottom. Enjoy!
Star Trek The Next Generation I Borg
Star Trek The Next Generation Measure of a Man
Star Trek The Next Generation Offspring
You can watch these and today’s episode of Picard right now on CBSAllAccess. Do it now. It is well worth it.
Until 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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Late To The Game 2/6/2020
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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