Star Trek Picard: Fly Me to the Moon

Having found the Watcher, Picard learns that the turning point of history involves one of his ancestors – astronaut Renée Picard. Renée is due to go on a mission into space in a few days’ time, but her struggles with depression and anxiety mean that she might not make it, and a certain Q seems on hand to discourage her. The omnipotent being also finds time to interfere with the life of Adam Soong, a geneticist looking to find a cure for his daughter’s debilitating condition.

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. For all that the end of every episode of this season hooks me in with its cliffhangers, each subsequent episode sucker punches me with disappointment. As if it wasn’t bad enough that we already had a dark, evil universe and time travel back to the current decade, Picard is going in deep with even more tired plot contrivances.

Before we get into that, though, there’s something we need to address – this show’s almost compulsive need to keep serving up familiar faces. After all, we might forget that this is a Star Trek show if some existing character didn’t show up every five minutes to wish Picard well. And so it is that in this episode, yet another member of the Soong family shows up, played of course by Brent Spiner. Are these men cloning themselves through the generations? At least Spiner stops short of playing Adam Soong’s adoptive daughter, leaving that role instead to Isa Briones, better known as Dahj, Soji and Sutra. Just like his descendent Arik Soong (as seen in Enterprise season four), Soong is obsessed with genetics. His goal is to genetically modify his daughter so that she is no longer deathly allergic to sunlight and the outdoors in general, and who should be willing to lend a hand with his work than Q? Q’s motives for this remain obscure, so for now all we can do is assume that it’s just an excuse for more Brent Spiner fanservice.

But Q isn’t content with messing only with the Soong family – he’s got his sights set on the Picards too. TNG fans will remember Picard waxing lyrical about the many generations of his illustrious ancestors way back in Generations, and now we finally get to meet one of them. Renée Picard is the obligatory genius – so talented and capable that she has overachieved in pretty much any field you care to name. Unfortunately, she also struggles with depression and anxiety, and her general self-doubt seems to be interfering with her career as an astronaut. Instead of trying to help her through it, her counsellor – none other than Q – seems very keen to discourage her from participating in her next mission. Surely this must be history’s turning point? But why would the course of humanity go so badly wrong just because one precocious Picard didn’t step into a spaceship?

But enough about all this – aren’t there other characters in Picard? Yes, and the most interesting of them this week is Agnes Jurati. The Borg Queen summons a gendarme to investigate Chateau Picard, only to take him hostage with a snakelike tentacle – presumably something she’s recently constructed, or she would have surely used it sooner. With an innocent life at stake, Agnes has no choice but to kill the Borg Queen and strand everyone in the 21st century – which is more than Picard was willing to do for poor Elnor. However, the Borg Queen isn’t truly dead – her consciousness is still residing within Agnes, with presumably disastrous consequences.

As for the others, well, Seven and Raffi finally free Rios from the detention bus, and there’s really not too much else to report on them.

The Soong Line

Adam Soong: geneticist, 21st century.

Arik Soong: geneticist, 22nd century. Following the incident with his Augments and the Enterprise NX-01, he idly speculates about switching to robotics.

Noonien Soong: Roboticist, 24th century, creator of Data, Lore, B-4 and various other androids.

Altan Soong: Noonien Soong’s previously unmentioned son, as seen in Picard season one.

Other Notes

  • Picard compares the Watcher, Tallinn, to Gary Seven from Assignment: Earth. Now, of course Assignment: Earth was meant to be a backdoor pilot for a new show, and only tangentially related to Star Trek, but I guess this at least links things back to something that already existed in the canon.
  • Apparently, by 2024, exclusive events will have radio frequency invites that correspond to a database of the invitee’s life. I’d be interested in more details on this security model. Presumably the invite is some sort of RFID tag, perhaps holding information that matches what’s on the database – but what’s then to stop me handing my tag to someone else? I could scan some personal information onto the tag which then has to match what’s on the database, but even so, after I’ve done that, I can still hand the physical tag to another person. As far as I could tell from what we saw, there’s no additional challenge to authenticate yourself once you arrive at the event – you just need the invite to somehow correspond to the database.
    The second layer of security at the gala is constant surveillance and facial recognition while inside. Facial recognition is notoriously bad with beards (and often with ethnic minorities), so I guess only beardless white people should attend.

Summary – Fly Me to the Moon: In the 2020s, Star Trek Picard can afford the rights to Fly Me to the Moon, but Neon Genesis Evangelion cannot.

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