Star Trek Picard: Broken Pieces

The Zhat Vash are guardians of a terrible secret about synthetics, one that informs their every action. It’s the reason why Rizzo is so committed to her cause, and it’s also why Commodore Oh got Agnes Jurati to kill Bruce Maddox. Now, Picard and Soji must uncover the truth that motivates the Zhat Vash, and try to return Soji to her home planet. Meanwhile, Raffi tries to find out why Rios seems so distracted, whilst Elnor finds a new ally in the fight against the Romulans on the Artifact.

The world is falling apart around us, but television won’t review itself, so here we are. To be honest, this episode is a bit of a mess. This is episode eight of ten, and there’s definitely a feeling of “oh shit, we wrote all this stuff and now we need to wrap it up soon”. Let’s take a closer look at the main plot strands.

First up, we have our very own Romulan John McClane, Elnor, trying desperately to fight off all the Romulans on the Artifact. Just as he’s about to get overwhelmed, deus ex machina arrives in the form of a gun-toting Seven of Nine. Why has she turned up at this exact time? Seemingly only because it serves the plot for her to do so.

Anyway, Seven decides that the way to fight back is for her to link herself to the Borg Cube and reactivate all the drones, effectively making herself the Queen of a new Collective, and risking her hard-won humanity to boot. Which might have been an interesting thing to explore, if not for the fact that many of the drones are immediately blown into space by Rizzo and the Romulans. Seven retains control of the cube, but disconnects from her mini-Collective by the end of the episode, so what we seem to have been left with was a pointless exercise with very little in the way of jeopardy.

Meanwhile, on La Sirena, Rios has been acting distracted and weird ever since Soji came aboard. Since he’s unwilling to open up to Raffi as to what’s going on, she decides to assemble all of his emergency holograms and their comedy accents to unravel the mystery. The various holograms all have pieces of Rios’s memories, enough for Raffi to figure out that something bad happened back in Rios’s Starfleet days. A bit of exposition and a cup of black coffee later, and the truth emerges. Back on the Ibn Majid, Rios’s commanding officer, Captain Vandermeer, was ordered to kill a pair of alien emissaries, and told that if he didn’t, the lives of his crew would be forfeit. Vandermeer carried out his orders, but felt so bad about what he’d done that he committed suicide, leaving Rios to not only mourn the death of the man he’d once loved like a father, but to also cover up the murders.

Anyway, this story isn’t just window dressing to explain why Rios has his own PTSD issues – one of the two people who were killed looked exactly like Soji. In other words, the reason they were murdered in the first place is because they were synthetic life forms. They originate from Soji’s homeworld, the very place that the Zhat Vash have been searching for – and to which La Sirena must now rush to protect. Sounds like we’re due a final boss confrontation very soon.

In the meantime, everyone has by now also realised that Jurati is responsible for Maddox’s death, and that Oh was effectively the one pulling her strings. Jurati agrees that she should turn herself in at the earliest available opportunity, although presumably that might not happen until after she plays her part in defeating the final boss. I want to like Jurati, but it’s really hard to see how she can be properly redeemed – yes, she was effectively forced to kill Maddox, but she’s still the one who did the deed.

Even more questions and observations

  • It’s revealed that the Zhat Vash – who seem to be predominantly or exclusively female – go to a special “grief planet” to learn of the horrors of synthetic life. This drives most people mad, but one or two get through the ordeal and become dedicated operatives.
  • The red-haired Romulan xB who called Soji “the Destroyer” turns out to be Narek and Rizzo’s aunt, and also a former Zhat Vash.
  • Commodore Oh is of course also a member of the Zhat Vash, who has been under deep cover in Starfleet for years. Ordering Vandermeer to kill the synthetics, and the Mars incident are just some of her many evil schemes.
  • The “grief planet” is located at the centre of an octonary star system – that is, one containing eight stars, which was apparently constructed by an ancient and powerful race of beings. Currently, no octonary star systems have been observed in real life – and we only know of two septenary star systems.

Summary – Broken Pieces: Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to write TV.

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