We are very nearly half way through the first season and we are just finally getting past the exposition that plagued the last few episodes. While there were absolutely great moments in this installment I really felt like it was past time to get into the meat of the story. Although we do get some movement in that direction it seems this season is still not done filling in the past 20 years of Picard’s life since we saw him in Star Trek Nemesis.
So, let’s dive in and talk about this episode. I will, of course, try to avoid spoilers in the review portion but in the Observation Deck, all bets are off.
Now off on his mission to save Soji with his rag-tag crew, Picard makes a pit stop before continuing actually starting that mission for yet another crew member and to make up for a past regret.
Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?
In accordance with the title I will have absolute candor here. Yes, I felt that it was a very good entry in the series but it could have been better. Let me explain.
Star Trek Picard seems to be, much like Picard himself, plagued with trying to hold on to and explain the mistakes of the past. It is an interesting conundrum as it is not the past we know that it is finding itself beholden to, but the unknown past that is plaguing the character of Picard himself. I fully understand the need to fill in the blanks of what we have missed in the years since Nemesis but the continued use of flashbacks to convince viewers to have feelings for these new characters seems a little heavy handed and not a very wise writing technique. Many of these flashbacks, while quite interesting and honestly very enjoyable on their own, could have been accomplished through dialogue or even the use of the Short Treks shorts after this season ends. Sure, the later was something I complained about in Discovery, specifically the lack of backstory for Saru, but we are not dealing with completely unknown characters here (and really Saru was a complete boob until that backstory actually gave him some depth). I mean, if Picard feels something or has a connection with someone, leave us with a little mystery and fill in the blanks in clever ways.
That being said, I actually really loved the backstory in this one although this method of story telling is getting a little stale. This time we get to see a more personal connection for Picard in his perceived betrayal of the Romulan Empire by the Federation. This time, it’s a little more personal for the intrepid Captain Admiral as he attempts to make amends for a slight from from fourteen years prior. In way I feel like this season is being setup as Jean Luc Picard’s swan song. While I know they have green lit a second season…I get this deep sense of dread that the terminal illness Jean Luc has developed is a hint of how this series ends. This may indeed be Jean Luc Picard’s final journey and he is not just on a mission to make amends for his friend Data but to make amends for the life he abandoned 14 years earlier.
While Picard’s story continues to build and grow more interesting, Soji’s, the possible daughter of Data, story seems to be stalling. Each is only showing us more of her story as a reminder that she is still there and that she is important, although it really doesn’t feel like that right now. So far, outside of being refereed to as ‘The Destroyer’ in the previous episode, we really haven’t learned much about her or her purpose. Heck, not even the Romulan love interest seems to have learned much and for a Tal Shiar/Zhat Vash agent, that is rather disappointing. While Soji is very much the macguffin of this series, I really wish this macguffin got a chance to do more than stand around looking puzzled and occasionally hurt. You have a quality actor here, USE HER!!!
Speaking of characters, we are introduced to a new, and possibly final, crew-member in this episode. Played by Casey King, Elnor is essentially a Romulan ronin (Romunin?) raised in by an order of Romulan Warrior Nuns. Yes, you read that right. ROMULAN WARRIOR NUNS! Elnor is one of Picard’s biggest regrets from his and the Federation’s betrayal of the Romulan people. I won’t go into detail just yet but you get the sense that this is another of the children that Picard will never have. One thing though, this dude seriously comes across as a Tolkien elf. I mean, damn if that is not a young Elrond.
While not on the screen, this episode marks the return of another STNG member to Star Trek in the form of Jonathan Frakes. Back behind the camera, Frakes shows he still has the chops as a director. While the episode wasn’t the pacing I was hoping for, Frakes still manages to manipulate this series need for continual exposition and make it feel closer to the story progression that I had hoped for. That being said, we do get an interesting cliff hanger that promises some really interesting things in the next episode. I just hope it’s not a red herring, or in this case a blonde one.
Overall, this was a good entry and one that manages to give some insight into the man Picard is now versus the man he was when we last saw him on the Enterprise. He is a wounded and broken man who is looking to redeem his name in a universe that seems to have either forgotten or despise him.
Observation Deck: Lots of SPOILERS HERE SO BE WARNED
I love the idea of an order of Romulan Warrior Nuns who are essentially the antithesis of Vulcans. The Quakan Khkai, as they are known, are essentially an order of female ninjas who bind their swords for depirate, or lost, causes and have a rule of ‘Absolute Candor’. This means that are open with their emotions in every way literally holding nothing back. Where Vulcans restrain their Emotions, the Quakan Khkai fully embrace them and that is pretty cool. These Romununs(?)…Nunulans(?) are frankly bad ass assassins and Elnor happens to have been raised and trained among them but, being male, can’t actually be one. Needless to they, and he in turn, have some pretty mad skills.
Speaking of Elnor. Ever since the deaths of his brother Robert and nephew Rene, Jean Luc has lamented his lack of progeny. So it is no surprise that he has always felt regret for leaving Elnor as a child. The problem is….he didn’t have to. Sure, the dude was lamenting his perceived betrayal of the Federation towards the Romulans but how hard would it have been to simply take a transit back there and pick that kid up at any point in the past 14 years? Even a year or two later and that kid would have been ecstatic for someone to come and get him. Hell, Jean Luc could have raised him along side his Tal Shiar staff this whole time. So yea, he really should feel guilty.
One aspect I loved in the last episode and love even more in this one is Captain Rios and his holographic crew. Each hologram, although duplicates of Rios, each have a unique and amazing personality of their own. Santiago Cabrera is fantastic in his separate depictions but when they interact with each other, it is just perfect in every way. I mean, it makes sense to have a crew of holograms but to have them all look like you but with different personalities?! Genius.
I got literally nothing out of Soji’s story this time around except for a really strange Android on Ice moment. I get why they did that really out of place scene, it was to show that Soji and Narek are actually falling in love despite Narek supposedly there to pump her for information and then kill her. I have a feeling that he will end up killing his sister and saving Soji because love triumphs or some nonsense but really the ice-capades? Oh and speaking of Narek and his evil Sister…what is it with the Lannister vibe I am getting from her. Creepy much?
I freakin loved seeing a retro Romulan Bird of Prey show up. This really makes me thing even more that we are going to get a Pike series. I mean why would they update and render a classic series ship for just a few minutes of screen time? Show’s like this do not have the budget to waste like that…I think we may just see that ship again. While it really served no purpose other than to get Seven of Nine on board Picard’s ship, it was really nice to see.
Speaking of Seven…what a way to end the episode right? So I have to wonder…what the heck is she doing there? We do hear about a group called the Fenris Rangers…and they really went out of their way to talk about them. Hmmmmmmm could there be a connection here? Ya think? I also have to wonder what became of her and Chakotay…or The Doctor…and where the heck is Icheb?
Okay, well. there it is. Four episodes in.. The teaser images below are for the next one and…I’ll be honest…they have me a little concerned.
You can watch this episode now on CBSAllAccess. Do it now before you get too behind!!!
Thanks for reading the SciFi TV Review I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you!
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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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 2/13/2020