Star Trek Picard: Maps and Legends

With the help of his Romulan assistants, Picard begins to investigate the circumstances behind Dahj’s death, along with possible leads about her sister Soji. But even as he uncovers hints pointing towards the involvement of a secretive Romulan faction, he finds that Starfleet is unwilling to help him. Meanwhile, Soji continues her work aboard the abandoned Borg cube.

I have to admit that overall, I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the first instalment. There was a lot of ground to cover, and in order to get characters from A to B, all the usual plot devices were out in force. There are enemy informants in Starfleet, plans with plans, secret evil factions behind the existing factions we already knew about, nonsensical computer hacking, and even a Romulan forensic device that magically turns particle residue into a video reconstruction of past events. It all feels like a little too much.

That being said, there are still some good scenes. Perhaps my favourite part of the episode was Picard strolling into Starfleet Headquarters, expecting everyone to know who he is and immediately outfit him with a ship for his latest escapade. Not only does the receptionist not recognise him, but his demands are resoundingly refused. Even though I’m obviously on Picard’s side here, I enjoyed the way the scene played out – and of course this leaves the door open for him to gather a ragtag crew of eclectic personalities for his adventure.

We also get a flashback to the synthetic uprising on Utopia Planitia that happened fourteen years previously. Creepily, the synthetics we see all look like stripped-down versions of Data, with pale skin and yellow eyes, yet lacking in even Data’s level of social skills. Despite living in a future of tolerance and acceptance, the humans on Utopia Planitia seemed to care little for their synthetic colleagues.

Notes and Observations

  • In the future depicted in All Good Things, Picard was suffering from Irumodic Syndrome, a brain disorder. Armed with that foreknowledge, Picard had Beverly scan him at the time, and she did find a small parietal lobe defect that could lead to Irumodic Syndrome. Picard’s current physician references that defect, and indicates it could lead to a number of syndromes, some of them treatable but all of them ultimately fatal. Is the series actually intending to kill off Picard down the line, or are they just throwing this in for a bit of extra jeopardy along the way?
  • I’m going to make this point now so we don’t have to keep going on about in future episodes – back in I, Borg, the Borg were obsessed with recovering every last drone and piece of equipment. Both in Voyager and now here, the Borg don’t seem to care about their lost drones and technology. In fact, the Romulans have apparently been profiting from what they can salvage and reverse engineer of the abandoned cube.
  • I’m delighted that this episode featured a Trill character, and hope she gets more to do in future. It would be also be a really bad look if the show had brought a black person in just to be an expendable character, which is what I feared after we saw all the warnings about the dangers of exploring the Borg Cube.
  • Picard’s current doctor once served with him aboard the Stargazer.
  • Up until now, the Tal Shiar have been depicted as the definitive Romulan secret service – now it’s revealed that they might just be a front for an even more secret agency, the Zhat Vash. While it’s true that real world countries can and do have more than one flavour of intelligence agency, this twist does feel a little bit clichéd.
  • It’s apparently a big deal that Romulans don’t have synthetic life forms or AI in their society, even though this aversion has never really been evident in previous Star Trek series. True, we never saw any Romulan androids or advanced AI, but the same goes for the Cardassians, Klingons and most other powers. Synthetic life forms were always pretty rare and special, so not seeing them never really indicated that a society outright hated and feared them.
  • Picard seems to tear up a little after seeing a holographic Galaxy-class starship in the foyer at Starfeet HQ. Who can blame him?

Summary – Maps and Legends: “A single Data … is a curiosity. A wonder, even. But thousands of Datas. Isn’t that becoming a race?”

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