Filling in the details.
What They Say:
Picard realizes how far some will go to protect secrets that go back generations when truths about the attack on Mars are revealed; Narissa orders her guards to capture Elnor, setting off a chain reaction on the Borg cube.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With three episodes left including this one, Star Trek: Picard works to flesh out more of the larger backstory. It’s pretty much expected structurally at this point and episode writer Michael Chabon certainly knows how to handle it, especially after the strong episode last time around. This one change things up with a bit more action to it and some interpersonal drama but it finally delivers us a version of Raffi that I can actually connect with a bit while also showcasing a lot of different sides of Rios, whom I liked from the start. There are a lot of areas at work here and we get some really big “big picture” aspects to it as well that makes clear the overall series intention. One of the most amusing things I found about it though as that as the elements came together, all I could think of was Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender series.
The big picture side of this comes across the whole episode as the various pieces laid out are finally put together by everyone. With a flashback segment at the beginning that takes us back fourteen years ago, we see how the Romulan secret Zhat Vash group meets on a protected world called Aia where only a select few can discover the real truth of the ancient past. Under a process called Admonition, they see the ancient history of this world and how synths rose and a line was crossed that destroyed everything. Roughly cited as 200,000 years ago, this became the reason that the Zhat Vash was created hundreds of years ago and have protected against it since. Which includes the half Romulan half Vulcan Commodore Oh to slip into Starfleet and kill a lot of synth research and plans over the years. And we see how she brought Narissa into the fold, which in turn launched the events on Mars that caused so much doom to their own species as well. But when viewed against what they saw in the distant past, even that felt like it was worthy.
The why? It’s not laid too clear but essentially once synth life crosses a certain threshold, something else appears and basically eliminates everything related to it. That’s ominous as hell and one can imagine with the scale of threats seen in other quadrants already that this is a hugely valid threat.
So, with that in mind and spread out across the episode, it gets tackled from different points of view. With Rios, he recognizes Soji when she comes on board and that causes him to instantly retreat to his cabin after setting the course that Picard gives him. It also has all the holo’s taking his place, which lets Raffi try to figure out what they know since they’re “copies” of him to some degree. It’s a solid way to showcase who Rios is through some comical personalities but also to dig into his past while he goes through a drunken phase in his cabin looking at things from his time in Starfleet. I do hope we get a better visual of him in uniform because if you’re on Trek, you either want to be done up with crazy makeup or wear the uniform. But the reality of him on his previous ship having encountered someone who looked exactly like Soji makes it clear that he had a deadly encounter with the place that she’s from, and really binds them all together. Suffice to say, Maddox really was busy on this hidden world of his.
Soji, for her part, is certainly struggling with everything but as more information comes out it’s liked more of it is unlocked within her. It doesn’t exactly expand her personality in a sense because she’s still grappling with what and who she is, but the realizations are there and she’s starting to take more control over her path. Which doesn’t always go well, such as when she tries to lock everyone out of the controls and runs the ship herself, but it’s an honest moment from her. I do like seeing her and Picard talk because she managed to get him to really question himself a good deal but I also really liked when Rios delivered an adorable moment on her with the food selection. The critical part, however, is seeing how Jurati and Soji interact. While she’s struggling with her actions and has made her confessions to Picard – Commodore Oh really did force her hand when you get down to it – the delight in her over seeing Maddox’s creation is wonderful to see. I hope these two click better since Jurati is a path for Soji to learn more about her creator unless there’s another twist in the wind coming up.
Separate but related, events on the Borg Cube take a pretty drastic turn. While Elon is doing his best to survive, Narissa has taken it upon herself to end the whole project there while waiting to find him. That means killing the xBs and anything else that gets in her way. Seven of Nine does show up to rescue Elon since he had the Fenris Rangers tag on him and she does her best to try and put things right for the Borg and xBs here. But it comes with a potential sacrifice of herself since she has to connect to the Cube and create a micro-collective. It’s fascinating watching it begin to repair itself under her control but at the same time we see Narissa orchestrating large scale chaos and death through what she controls of the Cube herself. It’s a nasty sequence of events itself and the pain that Seven goes through across it is intense, making clear that she’s definitely going to be seeking some vengeance.
As picard shifts gears post-Nepenthe where things really slowed down beautifully, we’re going to barrel into these final episodes. This one sets the pace well as Chabon gives us a lot of character material and mythbuilding with the past but connects it all with the right weight in the present for everyone involved. Rios has a personal stake, Raffi has been trying to unravel this for years, Picard is connected through Data and Maddox, and synths have been Jurati’s dream forever. It’s tied together well with the core group which is why it makes sense that Elon is on the outside with Seven of Nine right now. I’m digging the larger implications of what’s coming by the pieces that come together here and am excited to see what’s next.
Streamed By: CBS All Access