We are officially at the halfway mark and the series is really starting to heat up.  Even though there is a little more back story everything in this episode serves a purpose and it looks as though we are finally getting into the meat of this season.

So, let’s dive in shall we?  This is Stardust City Rag

The Episode:

Picard and his crew plan a heist, not for treasure, but for a certain Bruce Maddox.  Now armed with the notorious Fenris Ranger and former Borg Drone, Seven of Nine, Picard and his rag-tag crew head to Freecloud only to find more than they bargain for.

Is it a ‘Good’ Episode?

Okay, as I mentioned before, we are FINALLY getting to some serious story.  Not only does the narrative move forward in a substantial way we also get some much needed back story as to why Voyager’s own resident Borg is joining in the fray and I have to say, it’s a pretty tragic story. (More on that below, trust me, if you haven’t seen it yet I don’t want to spoil it for you.)

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This episode is, as I mentioned above, a heist story and, much like that of any Heist film, we get the classic ‘see the action as they plan’ style of filming. While this might feel a little cliched in this day and age, it actually works well and feels rather fresh compared to the previous exposition filled episodes. All the main character get a chance to ‘pretend’ to be someone else (except for poor Elnor who makes it clear he wants to play along), heck even Picard himself get’s into the fun sporting an eye patch and a purposely cartoonist French accent.  The thing is, even in it’s absurdity, the episode works and makes the more serious parts a little easier to bare.   Thankfully, this time around, we are spared more of the rather awkward love affair between the Lannister Romulan and the Maybe-Data Daughter. Frankly that story is getting a little annoying as it is literally going nowhere…or at least not that we have seen.

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I have to say, Jeri Ryan really picks up her Voyager character in a perfect way and you really feel like she has grown in the past 20+ years.  I mean, the last time she played this role was nearly 20 years ago so it is saying something for her to be able to leap back in to her ocular implants.  This is not the Seven we saw romancing Chakotay at the end of Voyager but a rather rogue and broken version that is still attempting to connect with her humanity as the universe keeps throwing her curve balls.  I really hope this isn’t the last time we see her on the series or we get a mini series depicting her life before these events.  I do hope she survived the end of this episode although the odds were quite against her.  Then again, we never saw a body so…

Outside of Ryan, I love the way the crew is melding together. Rios is fantastic as the brooding Captain who is hiding his flamboyant self, Raffi, while broken, is the perfect first officer for this crew and Rio’s holograms are pretty awesome and I really want more of them. While he isn’t really used, much to his own dismay, Elnor is a perfect delight who is both innocent and deadly all at once.  It is clear he just wants to belong having never really had that in his life and you almost pity his puppy-dog personality. Then there is Jarati…so far she is suspicious and annoying as hell.  Although I kinda like her character for some reason. All that aside, I really hope that Picard himself survives this first season and continues to lead this fun crew.

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Jonathan Frakes once again gets behind the camera only it feels like he is trying something new with his directorial style.  It really didn’t feel like an episode directed by Frakes as it was lacking some of his rather esoteric allegorical style.  I mean this is the guy that brought us Measure of a Man, The Offspring and Voyager’s Death Wish, all very deep and meaningful episodes, not that this one didn’t have it’s moments it just didn’t feel like it was quite on the same level as his other work.  That being said, it was a very solid entry and one that pretty much closes act one, curtain closes with screams from off stage in the dark. I have to say, I am looking forward to what comes next.

Observation Deck: Lots of SPOILERS HERE SO BE WARNED

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The episode opens with yet another flashback, I think this is just going to be what they do from now on, but this time the flashback is 13 years prior and involves the newest crew-member, Seven of Nine.  In the flash back we see the fate of one of the former Voyager crew-members, one Icheb. Sadly his fate is not a pleasant one as Icheb is being harvested for his Borg implants when Seven arrives literally too late to save him.  It is a tender moment and one that is both heartbreaking and character building for Seven.  That said, we do see that Icheb does in fact join Star Fleet and even makes it  the rank of Lieutenant.  Way to go Icheb, Janeway would have been proud. Speaking of which, if there were people harvesting former Borg, why the hell is Janeway not front and center putting a stop to that shit.  hmmmm, could Janeway be the leader of the Fenris Rangers that Seven is a part of.  Now how could would that be for a surprise appearance? I did notice that Icheb is played by a new actor, Casey King and not the original Icheb, Manu Intiraymi for some reason.  Shame really, he hasn’t changed all that much and it seems a bit of a miss on the part of CBS.

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While we don’t get more of the really strange Romulan and Julie-8 story, we do get some rather out of place back story for Raffi but not as a flashback for once. It seems Raffi is going to Freecloud to…find her son?  Not only that but her pursuit of the truth concerning the android ban and the Romulan conspiracy cost her her family….yeah some deep shit here. While I am not entirely sure we needed to know about her personal issues to this level, at the same time, this moment gave her some real depth outside of her relationship with JL.  She literally sacrificed her family and, essentially her happiness, for Picard’s mission so it is no wonder she is bitter toward the retired Admiral. We do learn that her son not only married Romulan but they are having a child together so there is that.  I imagine this will not be the last we see of them.

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I love a good reference, especially one’s that fill in some backstory without having to go too far.  This episode manages to give us the fate of a couple of other Star Trek characters without them even appearing on the screen in person.  The character in question, a certain Deep Space Nine bartender…yep Quark himself!  It seems that our favorite Ferengi has expanded his operations outside of Deep Space Nine with what appears to be a franchise of bars named after, well, himself of course.  He is even name dropped in the story giving us some closure on one of my favorite characters.  I have to say, I hope Quark manages to make an appearance before the series is over but this was nice to see. I did mention ‘characters’ with an ‘s’, we also learn the fate of a certain Enterprise Barber one Mr. Mot.  It seems he has taken up his passion with his very own Hair Emporium right next to Quark’s.  Love it!

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So,  my expectations that Doctor Jurati is a spy for the Zhat Vash is confirmed in the closing moments in this one. Before we get into that, however,  we learn an interesting tidbit.  Not only was Jurati an important part of the android research but she and Maddox were…well..a thing.   This is all the more interesting as, acting as the spy that she is, she ends up murdering him just after he manages to give Picard the location of Soji.  Before he dies he does mention that she was instrumental in the creation of the Data Twins….I have to wonder if they are not her biological daughters as well…I mean they would need some kind of DNA to be grown from….maybe an egg or two?  That being said she mentions that the Zhat Vash ‘showed’ her something she wishes she could un-see.  What could it possibly be? Did she see the dark secret or a part of it?  Maybe that the positrons he was using was Lore’s and that they are indeed evil decedents of Data’s brother and not Data himself.  AAAAAH!  Too many questions.  Yet again, even the original Maddox didn’t return as it seems a new actor, John Ales filled in as the older Maddox.  I imagine both had extenuating reasons but yet another interesting choice not to bring someone back.

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Okay, speculation aside, I thoroughly loved this episode and can not wait for the next entry.  Until next time…well below are some sneak peeks of what is to come!

Essential Viewing:

Star Trek Voyager Season six  ‘Collective’

Star Trek STNG Measure of a Man

You can watch this episode now on CBSAllAccess. Do it now. It is well worth it.

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.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

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.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

Late To The Game 2/20/2020

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