Despite being rejected by Starfleet, Picard is still determined to launch a mission to find Soji. With that in mind, he attempts to enlist the help of former Starfleet colleague Raffi Musiker, but there’s some bad blood between them that won’t be easily healed. Meanwhile, Soji herself continues to study the liberated drones on the abandoned Borg vessel.
The first three episodes of Picard were meant to be a single bumper, pilot episode, and with that in mind, I tried to be a bit more forgiving of all the exposition and setup that was going on. Even so, I have to admit that while I’m optimistic for the series overall, this episode and the previous one were a bit of a disappointment.
Let’s talk a little about some of the characters we get to meet (or properly meet) in this episode. First up is Raffi Musiker, Picard’s XO during the whole Romulan/Martian debacle. In flashback, we see Picard conferring with her after Starfleet accepts his resignation, with the implication that her Starfleet career is also about to abruptly terminated. Back in the present, and Raffi has been stuck out in the desert for years, clearly struggling emotionally and getting by with the help of recreational drugs. She’s angry with Picard for not checking up on her, but the demands of the plot mean that she comes around remarkably quickly, and ultimately joins his crew.
I have to admit I felt a bit sorry for Raffi at this point – even though the dialogue between her and Picard was standard telly-land, it felt a bit rough that he only seemed to get in touch with her when he needed something. I know it took Picard years to get close and comfortable with his senior crew on the Enterprise, but this does feel a bit out of character – and even if he did feel too awkward to stay in contact with Raffi after effectively ending her career with his, I like to think that his apology in this episode should have been more heartfelt. There’s a sense here that Picard is using his speechifying to get what he wants, whereas I always felt in TNG that he made those speeches because he truly believed in what he was saying.
Also joining Picard’s crew is Cristóbal Rios, a former Starfleet officer turned freelance pilot. Rios runs his ship alone, with the help of a number of holographic versions of himself, each distinguished by their attire and accent. It’s really too early to tell how interesting Rios is going to be, and at present his holograms seem to mainly exist to give him someone to talk to, so that he can vocalise his inner monologue for the audience’s sake.
Rounding out the crew (for now) is Dr Agnes Jurati, who gets drawn into the action after she draws the attention of Romulan agents both within and without Starfleet. That means that for now, Picard’s crew is entirely human, however that at least should imminently be about to change. At least now that these four are assembled, Picard can get off Earth and his adventure can begin in earnest. The only thing I’m a little sad about is that his Romulan assistants, whom I’ve grown to quite like, will have to remain on Earth to tend the vineyard.
Meanwhile, we also continue to follow Soji’s story as she interacts with liberated Borg on the Cube. Joining her is one Hugh, formerly Third of Five, last seen on TNG. Jonathan del’Arco returns to play an older, wiser Hugh, but while this is a nice nod to the fans, to be honest in the episode it barely matters that it’s meant to be the same character. In fact, I didn’t really realise it until after the fact, and neither did one of my occasional viewing companions.
Working with the Borg not only causes Soji to recall details she shouldn’t know about the liberated drones, but also causes one of them to react badly, accusing Soji of being ‘the Destroyer’. This phrase is echoed by one of the Zhat Vash agents, just as we saw in one of the series trailers all those months ago. At the time, I wondered if it meant that Dahj (and Soji) were perhaps Borg Queens, and I’m still inclined towards something along those lines. Did Maddox use Borg technology to get his “fractal neuronic cloning” to work? At present, the whole “she’s the Destroyer” thing does feel a bit melodramatic and over-the-top, but I’m hopefully that there’ll be a really meaty and satisfying mystery behind it all.
Finally, it is of course always worth noting the excellence and class that Patrick Stewart brings to his role. Once again, I find myself entertained by Picard trying and failing to leverage his perceived importance within Starfleet – fourteen years ago he threatened to resign if they didn’t go with his plan to continue helping the Romulans, but instead of capitulating, they accepted his resignation.
- If Rios is using holograms, does that mean that the AI ban only applies to androids? It’s possible that Rios is just being a maverick and breaking the rules in his use of holograms, but if that was the case surely Picard would have commented on it.
- I failed to note this in the last blog, but Commodore Oh is actually the first commodore we’ve seen in the 24th century. Maybe the rank was re-introduced for some reason, or is only used in very special, rare cases.
- Fourteen years ago, Picard and Raffi seemed to think that there might have been Romulan involvement in the android uprising. This would fit in with the Zhat Vash hating androids, as well as the insular xenophobia of some Romulan factions. Even though it means fewer Romulan lives were saved, it would help to maintain a rift between Romulus and the Federation, as well as preserving Romulan honour – no having to rely on Federation handouts.
- Hugh seems to think that the Romulan ex-Borg seen in this episode are the only Romulans to have been assimilated, but we have already seen Romulan drones in Voyager.
Summary – The End is the Beginning: Engage.