It finally happened. Star Trek: Picard gave us the cameo we’ve been waiting for since the first episode. And even here, it made us wait. Picard and Soji are on the run after he helped her escape from the Artifact. He asked the ship to meet him at a faraway planet. There’s only one problem with that plan. There’s a traitor on board. We didn’t go much into it during the last episode, but you’ll remember that after the team successfully rescued Dr. Maddox, Dr. Jurati killed him. She said she was doing it because she knew something. Well, this week we get some clarification on that. The episode opens on a flashback of Commander Oh meeting with Dr. Jurati. After Jurati’s first two meetings with Picard, Oh asked her what they were about. We find out Jurati is part of Picard’s crew on Oh’s request. Oh mind-melded with her and showed her a world where Synthetics were allowed to exist. It apparently led to Earth’s destruction.
I like any Star Trek that plays with the idea of Vulcans operating entirely on logic. Ideally, it should make them immune to fear. It should prevent them from making assumptions like that, but it doesn’t. Many people have this idea in their heads that logic is infallible. That as long as you operate on logic and not emotion, you’ll always be in the right. That’s rarely the case, though. Thinking logically can lead you to the wrong conclusion, especially if you start from an assumption, as appears to be the case here. In any case. Commander Oh is convinced that the existence of any androids will lead to Earth’s destruction. And so she’s sent Jurati on a secret murder mission aboard Picard’s ship.
She’s acting super suspicious, too. At first, the Romulans hold the ship in a tracking beam. She suggests that they tell the Romulans Picard’s not with them. Implying that they should just leave Picard and Soji to the Romulans while they make their escape. When the Romulans let them go, intending to follow them to Picard’s location, Rios warps in one direction and stops, planning to set his real course after Narek overshoots him. Jurati starts freaking out, yelling that they should go back to Earth and let someone else find the synth. Real strange, coming from a scientist who’s supposedly wanted to meet an android her whole life. Raffi replicates some cake and chocolate milk to calm her down, and Jurati starts crying. When Rios comes in to report that Narek is still shadowing them, she throws up. Strangely, the hospitality AI doesn’t show up to deal with the vomit. Wonder what happened to him.
Also suspicious is how Narek is able to keep tracking them. Rios comes to the wrong conclusion initially, thinking someone placed a tracker on Raffi. He finds it suspicious that she was ready to leave the ship forever, but ended up staying. He expresses that concern to Jurati though, who immediately puts everything together. The Romulans are monitoring the tracking device Oh gave her. I don’t know if she’s put together that Commander Oh isn’t entirely on the up and up, but she knows she’s being used. She injects herself with a neurotoxin and goes into a coma. Rios doesn’t understand why yet, but it makes her signal disappear from Narek’s map.
The real meat of this episode though, involves where Picard ran off to. He and Soji find themselves in the middle of a very pretty forest on a remote planet. A young girl greets them with a bow and arrow, but Picard appears to know her. As they walk through the woods and approach a house, we see Deanna Troi. Yep, this week’s Star Trek: The Next Generation guest stars are Counselor Troi and Commander Riker. Of course when Picard’s in trouble, he’d head straight to his most trusted friend in the universe.
Maybe I should be more skeptical of Picard going back to TNG nostalgia over and over, but it works. They don’t feel like cheap nostalgia plays. They’re always motivated by the story, and they move it forward. These aren’t mere cameos, they are full, necessary components of Picard’s journey. It helps that Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes haven’t lost a step in the years since we’ve seen them on screen together. They have that same easy friendship that’s always been there. Picard and Riker are both much older than when we last saw them. Riker is a retired family man making pizza in his backyard. Still though, even when they’re not fighting space battles, they compliment and bring out the best in each other.
They need to. Soji still doesn’t trust this whole situation. She just got done with one guy pretending to love her to gain her trust, so she’s not ready to open up to this crazy old man who whisked her across the galaxy. The fact that everyone’s nice to her doesn’t help either. It just makes her more suspicious. Picard doesn’t handle it well. He thinks her concerns are ridiculous and lets it show. It’s only after Troi tells him what she’s going through that he takes a different approach. I do wish we’d seen more of how Picard gains Soji’s trust here. By the end, he doesn’t have it completely, but Riker and Troi’s daughter convinces her to open up a little. I feel like we could have used more character growth here. Picard has never been good with children. That was one of his defining characteristics in TNG. But Riker points out that he’s essentially dealing with a teenager now. He has to learn. Picard agrees, I just wish we saw a little more action on his part this episode.
This week’s Picard was decidedly slower than last week’s action-packed episode. That’s OK though. After the stress of the Borg cube, both we and Picard needed a breather. It wasn’t completely devoid of action, though. Besides all the intrigue with Jurati, we caught up with Elnor on the Borg cube. Things didn’t turn out very well there after Hugh helped Picard escape. The Romulan Tal Shiar came in and started killing reclaimed Borg to try and get Hugh to talk. She leaves Hugh alive because he’s protected by the Federation. That is until they find him plotting to use the Queen’s chamber against the Romulans. That is a treaty violation, and allows Narissa to kill Hugh while fighting with Elnor. I guess single-episode TNG characters are this series’ red shirts.
Between the action, and the genuine, heartwarming connection between Picard and his old first officer, Star Trek: Picard turned in another strong episode. It took a while, but this series has become a worthy sequel to the TNG movies. It looks like the breather is over, though. This episode ended with Elnor getting inside the queen’s chamber and sending out a distress signal. We’re in for a big Romulan space battle next week.
Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on CBS All Access.
Previously on Star Trek: Picard: