It’s amazing how a single cameo can make Star Trek: Picard feel like The Next Generation never ended. After Riker’s fantastic appearance last week, all I want is to watch more Star Trek. This episode is a stark contrast to last week’s idyllic setting though. As great as Riker’s retirement looks, things aren’t so peaceful elsewhere on the show. Cornered in the Queen cell, Elnor put out a distress call to Seven of Nine. She arrives just in time too. As a squad of Romulan soldiers momentarily blind him before attacking, it looks like a fight he might lose. Just before the soldiers kill Elnor, Seven of Nine makes her grand entrance, taking them all down. How did this character get so much cooler between Voyager and now? Not that I’m complaining.
Turns out that’s nothing compared to what comes later. As they head into the Queen cell, Seven of Nine steals the Borg cube. Which, as a former Borg, she’s able to do. As soon as she does that, the cube starts repairing itself, much to the dismay of Narissa. What Seven has to do next is a little dicier. She finds that the cube is full of Borg who haven’t been revived yet. They’ve been cut off from the collective, but haven’t regained their consciousness. She could use them to create her own localized collective, but she’s afraid she wouldn’t want to let them go afterwards. That she would become the new Borg Queen. Narissa forces her hand though, when she starts slaughtering XBs. Seven plugs into the Borg cube and awakens all the remaining Borg. I have to say, watching her eyes go black and green and hearing “We are the Borg” was actually scary.
Narissa ejects most of the newly awakened Borg into space, but it looks like she didn’t account for all of them. As the Romulans prepare to leave the cube and head to Soji’s home planet, the remaining Borg systematically take out her guards. Narissa manages to phaser a few of them, but they overwelm her and tear her apart. It looks like something out of a zombie movie. I guess that’s what happens when Seven’s angry. There’s a brief moment where we’re not sure if Seven will actually give up the power. Elnor even thinks she’ll assimilate him. The Borg says that Annika still has work to do and releases her. I like that bit of tension, and I wish it lasted longer. Star Trek is at its most interesting when it’s about someone struggling with great power. There’s a little bit of that here, but it’s solved too quickly. Oh well, I guess the episode had enough going on as it is.
Meanwhile, back on the ship, Raffi’s figured out most of what was going on with Jurati. That she killed Bruce Maddox and put herself in a coma to destroy the tracker inside her. Unfortunately, Raffi thinks that means Jurati’s a Romulan spy. I mean, that’s what she’s being used as, but she doesn’t know that. It’s all too much for Rios, who freaks out seeing Soji aboard his ship. Picard asks for a secure channel to Starfleet and a course to Deep Space 12. He needs a squadron with him if he’s going up against the Tal Shiar. Rios says he’ll take them to DS12, but that’s as far as he goes. He’s quitting.
This sends Raffi on a ship-wide search to find out what exactly is going on with Rios. He locked himself in his quarters and left his ship’s AIs in charge of everything. They’re all modeled after Rios, but each with their own ridiculous accent and personality. They also have random bits of memory deleted. Like Rios was trying to forget something. He did a sloppy job though, as each one remembers a little piece of something. Still not enough to tell Raffi everything, but enough that she can start to put it together. It’s a fun, comedic bit in the middle of the episode, and as soon as it’s over we see why it was there. The show was preparing us for the infodump to follow.
Yes, we’re about to go to Soji’s homeworld next week, so Picard realized it needed to get us all up to speed now. It turns out the incident that ended in Rios’ discharge from Starfleet involved two synthetics. One of whom looked exactly like Soji. They were from the planet Maddox escaped to after the ban. Rios’ captain welcomed them in, but after a call from Commodore Oh, killed them both and then himself. That’s what drove Rios into depression.
From there, the rest of the crew pieces together the whole story behind the Synth ban. The Tal Shiar found a warning that Synth life would eventually create a destroyer. An android that surpassed human ability. That android would bring about the destruction of their world. The Tal Shair took that warning seriously, forming the Zhat Vash to hunt down synthetic life. To do that, a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan named Oh infiltrated Starfleet. Then, they carried out the attack on Mars to force Starfleet to outlaw all synthetic life. The attack was a Romulan opperation. I loved this scene. Yes, it was all people sitting around vomiting exposition, but it was done well. People sitting around monologuing at one another is compelling TV when the actors are all this good. Picard even gets in some words of wisdom as he always does. One single person can’t possibly be the destroyer. The true destroyer is fear. Yeah, that’s the kind of philosophizing I expect from the Captain of the Enterprise-D.
This episode wasn’t the action-packed thriller I was expecting after last week’s trip to Riker’s place. It didn’t need to be, though. Picard finally answered questions we’ve had since episode one. And it found a fun, engrossing way to do it. The show has a fantastic cast, and they all got to flex their muscles here. I didn’t realize it, but this is what I was hoping for from Star Trek: Picard from the beginning: A bunch of great actors doing their job very well. Next week, we head to Soji’s home planet. After their conversation, Soji decides she needs to warn the people there, and they don’t have time to wait around DS12 for a squadron to escort them. That’s going to make the mission much more dangerous, but where would the fun be if it wasn’t?
Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on CBS All Access.
Previously on Star Trek: Picard: