For more and more shows, flashbacks have become a way of life. For the second straight week, Picard continues this trend, briefly revisiting the Utopia Planitia attacks before switching gears to the all-important aftermath; namely, Picard’s schism with Starfleet. This scene does more than frame his resignation but also provides the impetus towards the distance between Picard and Raffi. Where her anger seemed almost petulant at the end of last week and early on in “The End”, when we see that not only was her career ruined for aligning herself with Picard but that, in the ensuing fourteen years, he never once reached out to her… well, any resentment Raffi feels is wholly warranted. Even then, she still assists Picard in procuring a captain — the mysterious Christobal Rios (Santiago Cabrera, Big Little Lies, Salvation), who harbors his own past angsts. Still, Picard gets the ship and crew, with surprising additions of Raffi and Dr. Jurati joining the trip to Freecloud, where Raffi has tracked Bruce Maddox and only wishes for a ride and nothing more.
Of course, events don’t line up quite as easily as this introduction would like you to believe. In fact, it’s almost stopped before it can begin when another team of black-clad Tal Shiar assassins storm Picard’s vineyard moments before he sets off on his trip. In another fantastically choreographed assault that maintains the necessary tension of life-and-death, Picard survives, in large part to the unexpected skills of Laris and Zhaban. Though they’re able to question a survivor before he suicides himself, the only information they get is ‘her’ as “the Destroyer”.
Taking a tried and true technique of juxtaposing two seemingly unrelated scenes that ultimately connect, as Picard fights for his life, Soji gets an interview with Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky, Devious Maids, For All Mankind), a Romulan myth expert of sorts and part of the final group of humanoids (all Romulans) assimilated by this specific Borg Collective before its cascade of failures. Soji hopes to use Ramdha’s techniques of driving community and mythology (or “the news” as Ramdha calls it) to help heal the fractured psyches of those recovering from assimilation. Instead, Soji gets her own shock when, in an almost maddened state of proselytizing, Ramdha identifies Soji as one of the two sisters, furthering that by asking whether she is the one who lives or the one who dies, finishing off with tabbing Soji as “the Destroyer”, which coincides with the Tal Shiar agent’s final words.
The combination of these scenes, which were initially disjointed and overly busy, adds weight to Soji’s purpose in the narrative that neither scene would have accomplished on its own. For Soji, she’s beginning to realize there is something hidden within her that she can’t explain. Narek’s presence helps keep her from possibly spiraling though we know his agenda is not for Soji’s benefit, something he’s reminded of by an untimely visit from his sister, Narissa. Perhaps it’s due to their Romulan heritage, but there is significant tension between the two siblings that goes beyond their line of work or association with the Zhat Vash which is something to watch for as the series continues forward.
Speaking of continuing, Picard and his crew set off on their journey to Freecloud, with our titular protagonist uttering those most famous words of his: “Engage”, accompanied by the familiar musical notes of The Next Generation theme. As a fan of The Next Generation from the moment it premiered, hearing Picard’s command elicited a goosebump-inducing level of nostalgia and excitement from me as, for the first time, Star Trek: Picard truly gets off the ground.
Make It So
- With the importance the series has laid on the Borg Collective angle, it was a treat to see Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco, Major Crimes, The Closer), the first Borg to be individualized (TNG’s season 5 episode, “I Borg”) as the executive director of the project. We don’t get much about his time since he last appeared in TNG (“Descent, Part II”, the season 7 premiere) but it stands to reason that he’ll have a bit more screen time in the near future and, through that, we’ll gain a better understanding as his ex-Borg life.
- As far as characters’ pasts go, there’s definitely a good story behind Rios. Never mind the fact that his Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) looks just like him and acts more like his conscience than a computer program, but the bitterness he expresses regarding his assignment as XO on the Ibn Majid, a ship that apparently didn’t exist suggests another shady Starfleet endeavor that may or may not be explored this season. But considering the rot that has seemed to form inside the organization (Commodore Oh, for example), it’s difficult to believe we won’t at least get some more hints into Rios’ enigmatic past.