Star Trek Picard: Hide and Seek

The Borg Queen has incited Soong to attack La Sirena, and she’s even provided him with a batch of drones to assist. But while his friends and allies prepare to defend the ship from the physical threat, Picard must finally face up to the trauma that ultimately shaped his entire life.

I’ve often felt disappointed with TV shows in general, and with this TV show in particular, but with this episode, I realised I had come to feel something else – anger. I realise that makes me sound like an old school Star Trek fan lamenting over “woke nu Trek” and hugging a rose-tinted vision of the past, but stick with me for a moment. The anger I’m feeling is on behalf of the protagonists, many of whom simply deserved better. Better writing, better characterisation, and above all, a more dignified conclusion to their various arcs.

Let’s take a step back, though, and briefly recap the main thrust of the episode. The neo-Borg of 2024 are after La Sirena, in the hopes of furnishing their queen with a way back to the Delta Quadrant and a 400-year headstart on their Alpha Quadrant adversaries. This is one of those things that’s meant to be a dramatic stand-off, an action-filled pay-off to episodes full of ratcheting tensions. Unfortunately, it just left me a bit bored and wanting the whole thing to be over. Obviously our heroes are going to triumph, and I don’t particularly want to have to squint at an incredibly dark screen watching them take out Generic Borg Drone #64329 in the process. Nor do I care at all for Adam Soong and his motivations – we’ve had far too much Soong in this show as it is.

Given his advanced age, it’s perhaps no surprise that Picard doesn’t join the others to get up close and personal with a bunch of attacking Borg drones. Instead, he delves deep into his childhood trauma. As we saw a couple of episodes ago, Picard’s mother struggled with depression and dark thoughts, and it seems that during the worst times, his father Maurice would lock her in a room “for her own safety”. During one such occasion, Jean-Luc decides to set his mother free, only for her to use that opportunity to hang herself. Yes, you read that right – Yvette Picard took her own life.

Back in the heady days of TNG, I had a very different vision of Picard’s childhood. He was clearly too smart for his own good and longed to be out of the parochial backwater of LaBarre and exploring the stars – an attitude which seemed to have rubbed his father and brother up the wrong way. I was content with this as a backstory; after all, Picard suffered plenty of trauma during TNG’s run. Let’s once again recall that he was subjected to the following:

  • The crushing weight of having to represent all of humanity at Q’s trials.
  • Briefly becoming an energy being in Lonely Among Us.
  • Getting assimilated by the Borg and forced to turn against humanity, only to have to repeatedly re-encounter the Borg multiple times in the following years.
  • Getting captured and tortured by Gul Madred.
  • Having an entire lifetime’s worth of memories dumped on him by the Kataan probe.
  • Learning that his brother and nephew burned to death in a fire at the Picard vineyards.
  • Living with the constant fear of advancing Irumodic Syndrome.

All in all, the last thing Jean-Luc Picard needed was yet another tragedy, let alone a formative one that apparently stoked his desire to run away to the stars and always avoid commitment in romantic relationships.

Even if we discounted all that, Yvette’s suffering feels far more superficial than it ought to be. I know that different people will experience depression in different ways, but the depiction of Yvette’s struggles didn’t resonate at all with my own experiences. And while we’re at it, this was the enlightened 24th century – so why was Maurice locking his wife in a room instead of seeking out professional help?

Queen Jurati

As disappointing as the whole Picard’s mum situation is, let’s move onto the thing that made me really upset this season – the fate of one Agnes Jurati. I’ve always liked Agnes – as the geeky and socially awkward science nerd, she’s definitely the character I can most relate to. And yet her big thing this season was getting infected by Borg nanoprobes and turning into the Borg Queen.

So now poor Agnes is stuck sharing her body, consciousness and very self with the Borg Queen, and while she finds herself able to exert some control, there’s no going back from this. In fact, the joint Agnes-Queen being is off to the Collective to transform it from an implacable force of assimilation into something more benevolent. The new collective will not take by force, but only accept those who are willing. And so, at a stroke, Star Trek Picard finishes the job that Voyager began, utterly defanging the Borg.

Everyone Else

  • Despite having been introduced as a sensible, non-nonsense person, Ramirez is now desperate for Rios to stay in the 21st century instead of returning home. Even if she’s feeling a desperate rush of lust for Rios, I have a hard time believing that she would insist that this man she met five minutes ago stay with her forever. What if they break up in a few months’ time and Rios desperately regrets not going home? This feels like a really sloppy and superficially written love story that doesn’t bear the slightest inspection. And yes, we see that in TV all the time, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
  • After fighting off the Borg, Seven gets mortally wounded by the Borg Queen. Jurati’s consciousness emerges and saves her life, but at the cost of re-Borging Seven. For some reason, this causes Seven to have the exact same set of implants she had before, even though some of those were physical implants and not made by nanoprobes. In fact, one of Seven’s implants was an artificial eye made by Voyager’s Doctor – did this magical reset scene restore that too, or does Seven now have both a real eye and a Borg ocular implant?
    Obviously this also means that Seven has to deal with once again being a hated ex-Borg, after enjoying her brief time of being fully human.
  • Elnor is back! Except he isn’t really – it’s just a hologram of him that Jurati summoned in order to protect La Sirena’s “fractal encryption key”, and also to fight off the Borg with a big sword. Somehow, though, this hologram has the real Elnor’s thoughts and feelings, right up to the point that he died. Is that something that La Sirena automatically records, just to be on the safe side? I guess Rios did like his holograms, but it seems a bit of an intrusion of privacy.

Other notes

  • Seven says that she tried to join Starfleet when Voyager got back to the Alpha Quadrant, but was ultimately refused – even though Janeway herself threatened to resign over it. First off, I’m surprised that Seven even wanted to join Starfleet, given how little she cared for their rules and regulations whilst on Voyager. Secondly, isn’t Starfleet meant to be an open-minded organisation that embraces diversity and difference? Yes, we’ve had a fair few xenophobic admirals, but this is also the organisation that admitted Worf, Nog and even Elnor.
  • The Borg were also foiled by “fractal encryption” when Data used it to lock out the Enterprise-E’s computer during the events of First Contact.

Summary – Hide and Seek:
Maurice: Jean-Luc, my only son, is such a smart young man.
Yvette: I love spending time with my only son Jean-Luc.
Robert: FFS.*

*I’ve been reminded that a throwaway line earlier in the season established that Robert was away at school during these flashbacks. Even so, given how thoroughly he’s been ignored since then, it’s no wonder he was pissed off at Jean-Luc in Family.

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