Star Trek Picard: Assimilation

Picard and his allies have commandeered a ship and stolen a Borg Queen, but their quest to restore the timeline has only just begun. Now they must successfully travel back to 2024 and find “The Watcher”, the one person who might be able to help them fix the divergence in the timeline. But such high stakes call for some dangerous and risky actions, and Picard’s motley crew may well be called to put their lives on the line.

I have to admit I was expecting a lot more plot advancement in this episode – after all, it’s not like we’ve got a lot of time to play with here. But even though a lot happens here, not much of it feels like it’s in service to the main plot. And maybe that would be fine, if it was absorbing and engaging in its own right. Unfortunately, this episode just feels a bit flat.

The episode begins with the by-now obligatory gratuitous violence section, as the Magistrate and his soldiers try to arrest Picard and crew before they can perform the slingshot manoeuvre. Naturally, the bad guys fail, and indeed several of them are disintegrated by our heroes. Still, as I said in the last review, I guess it doesn’t matter if you kill someone in the evil universe.

Unfortunately, the upshot of all this action is that Elnor gets fatally wounded, and sadly doesn’t survive the jump to the past. Presumably some timeline jiggery-pokery in a future episode will restore him, but it still seems a bit sad that one of our main characters is going to spend at least the next couple of episodes as a corpse in sickbay. Surely more could have been done with his character than killing him off to make Raffi feel angry and upset?

With Elnor in the fridge, it’s left to the other characters to start looking for The Watcher. While Picard and Agnes decide to reawaken the Borg Queen, Rios, Seven and Raffi decide to take the more direct route of beaming down to 2024 LA and searching for any mysterious alien activity.

Raffi and Seven’s Lesbian Adventure

Having beamed down to 2024 LA, Raffi and Seven set about trying to find the location of The Watcher, under cover of being a couple looking to celebrate their engagement.

I want Picard itself to be a sci-fi adventure set in the future, but I think we’d all be happy with a spin-off show about Raffi and Seven’s lesbian antics in contemporary California. I know we never got to see any lead-in to their relationship, but now that they are somewhat together, let’s run with it. The characters are great and the dialogue is snappy, so let’s do this.

Rios on ICE

Unfortunately for Rios, his arrival in LA doesn’t go quite as smoothly – he materialises in mid-air and hits the side of a building as he falls to the ground. Predictably, he ends up with concussion and a dislocated hand, and has to be taken to a clinic that’s happy to treat illegal immigrants and undocumented travellers from the future.

It’s all fun and games to start with, as Rios trades Spanish bantz with the archetypal Strong, Sexy Doctor, Ramirez, and tangles with her irritating son. But of course things soon take a turn for the worse, as FBI and ICE raid the clinic in search of illegal immigrants. Instead of hiding out back and letting Doctor Ramirez handle the situation, Rios wades in and only succeeds in getting both of them arrested. Nice going, Rios – did you even have a plan, or were you just trying to show off?

Agnes and the Borg Queen

The Borg Queen has withdrawn into herself, and someone needs to wake her up – via a direct neural connection. Picard can’t do it, as his time as Locutus means he would be re-assimilated immediately, so Agnes volunteers herself instead. Naturally, Picard isn’t too thrilled with the idea of letting one of his friends risk assimilation, but with no other options presenting themselves, he’s forced to go along with it.

I’m guessing this segment is meant to be filled with dramatic tension, but to be honest, it largely felt like time-filling. After connecting with the Borg Queen, Agnes monologues for a while, with different aspects of her psyche being drawn to the forefront by the neural connection. The Borg Queen tries to be mysterious and evil, but she is foiled yet again by those pesky humans. Admiral Janeway would be proud.

Other notes

  • In line with the events of DS9’s Past Tense, Sanctuary Districts are present in the US of 2024.
  • When Agnes stole information about The Watcher from the Borg Queen, it seemed as if the Queen herself no longer had access to that information. I can understand Agnes being able to access and memorise it, but how was she able to ‘delete’ it from the Queen?
  • Our heroes plan to avoid hospitals because they will stand out for not having the right ‘vaccination chips’. What are vaccination chips? Is this something that’s meant to exist in 2024, in the 25th century, or both? Either way they sound like fodder for an anti-vax conspiracy theory.
  • If we think back to previous Borg encounters such as First Contact, any physical connection to a Borg led to a hefty dose of nanoprobes and immediate, irreversible assimilation. Yet there’s not a nanoprobe in sight when Jurati connects to the Borg Queen; in fact, it all seems much tamer and safer than one might expect.
  • Similarly, Picard says being connected to the Collective resulted in a low-level euphoria, which seems very different to how horrific it all sounded in his previous descriptions. I guess it could all be bound up in some very conflicting and difficult feelings, but that’s a nuance that’s never been explicitly captured before.
  • Jurati admits to missing her childhood cat, which might explain why she created a feline AI in the dark timeline.

Summary – Assimilation: Let’s just find The Watcher already!

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