Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 7 – Debuted Thursday, March 5, 2020
Written by Samantha Humphrey and Michael Chabon
Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski
Picard and Soji escape to Nepenthe and the comforts of the Riker-Troi family, while the crew of La Sirena struggles to elude a ship in pursuit and Elnor stands his ground with Hugh on the Artifact.
[WARNING: Spoilers from here on]
This episode is sure to be a favorite with fans and was one of the best to date, thanks to the arrival of Picard and Soji on Nepenthe, where they spend some quality time with Will Riker, Deanna Troi, and their daughter Kestra (named after Deanna’s sister who died as a child, as revealed in “Dark Page”). Having heard Jonathan Frakes say that he and Marina Sirtis weren’t initially in the show and were added in later, I can’t help but wonder how they would have accomplished so much without them. It’s as important a visit for Soji as it is for Picard.
It was also (unsurprisingly) a tearjerker, from Troi being worried about Picard’s condition to their conversation about Thad, the son who died. (Loved the photo of Picard, in uniform, holding the baby with an expression of pure joy.) Troi and Riker have also also evolved, as Jean-Luc has, changed by events and time but still essentially themselves. Their beautiful home on an idyllic planet has all kinds of tech built in to keep them safe, and can even detect cloaked ships; we’d expect nothing less. And their personal story ties in perfectly with the larger one: the synth attack resulted in Troi and Riker being unable to save their son.
Star Trek doesn’t always get kids right, but the writers of Picard nailed it with Kestra. She’s exactly like a combination of her two parents, both adventurous and emotional. We get a little reminder of René, Picard’s nephew, in the way that Jean-Luc joins her “game” immediately, suggesting she aim at his head instead of his heart—also reminding us of his heart replacement in “Tapestry.” But it’s her connection with Soji that has the strongest impact. Her resourcefulness at tracking down Soji’s home planet was on point, and I hope we get to meet this Captain Rupert Crandall; he sounds awfully interesting. As for Soji herself, the realization of who she really is has been a long time coming, and she finally gets a chance to have the depth she’s been missing. Isa Briones is doing a great job, playing her as guarded and yet completely vulnerable at the same time; she’s gone from an empty slate to someone rushed into an overwhelming level of self-discovery.
Kudos to the writers and director for making this reunion as effective as it was. It hit all the right emotional beats, didn’t oversell, and was a perfect way to get Soji to reveal what she knew, to get her to trust Picard, to catch up on where Riker and Troi are in their lives, and to let everyone take a breather, among fresh tomatoes and bunny rabbits. I admit it; I wept a whole lot during these scenes, and may have burst into applause at our first glimpse of Deanna, even though I knew it was coming.
Back on La Sirena, Rios is worried that Raffi is being tracked (which would explain the presence of the cloaked ship)… or is he? Hard to tell if he really thinks so or if he’s trying to get Jurati to fess up, but by that point it’s finally been revealed what happened between Jurati and Commodore Oh (and her oversized ears) back at the Daystrom Institute. After a quick mind meld (remember how the first one Spock did on Dr. Van Gelder took half an hour?), Jurati is forced to see ALL the destruction caused by synths. Whether it’s real or imagined, we don’t know, but it’s enough to convince her to leave Earth for the first time, go on a dangerous mission with people she’s been told not to trust, and swallow (after chewing) a tracking device handed to her by someone she just met a few minutes ago.
Having Raffi treat her with such compassion and care was a perfect way to set up poor Agnes. When she vomits up that cake (ewww! and thank you for avoiding a close-up), she’s vomiting up everything: her betrayal and secrecy, her realization that she’s made the wrong choice and endangered others, and most of all, her murder of Bruce Maddox. Her foamy act of sacrifice shows that she’s realized all of this and wants to do the right thing.
Meanwhile on the Borg cube…
While it wasn’t entirely clear why Elnor didn’t just go with Picard and Soji, his instant bonding with Hugh gave me hope that Hugh was going to survive his confrontation with Narissa. When Narissa started shooting XBs, one at a time, the sheer brutality of it was horrifying. Hugh’s grief was beautifully played by Jonathan Del Arco.
I felt a little tricked by what happened here, though. Another TNG character bites the dust, and this one really stung. I suppose this is all to make Seven of Nine’s return more vengeful, which is by far NOT the most interesting aspect of her character. It’s Picard’s fault Hugh is dead, and it’s not sitting well with me. Honestly, I wish they hadn’t done it.
As for Elnor (aka “the kid”), it looks like he will be rescued by Seven in the next action-packed episode. Poor guy’s had a lot to deal with, all of the sudden; I hope we get to dig a little deeper into his story, because he hasn’t had a chance to do much beyond beheading people.
Overall, the pacing of this episode was perfect. Scenes were allowed to breathe, characters had moments, conversations that needed to happen weren’t rushed but didn’t linger too long, either. Well done.
- The gormagander from Star Trek: Discovery got a shout-out.
- Kestra mentioned Data wanting to tell jokes, dream, and dance, all referencing specific TNG episodes.
- Some of the imagery used in Jurati’s mind-meld was first seen in Star Trek: Discovery when we saw what Spock learned about the destruction caused by the Control AI from his own mind-meld with the Red Angel. Let’s hope it was simply a re-use for budgetary reasons and not some bizarre link between the two stories.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard are released on CBS All Access in the USA Thursdays at 12:01 AM PT/3:01 AM ET. In Canada it airs Thursdays on CTV Sci-Fi Channel at 6PM PT /9PM ET and streams on Crave. For the rest of the world it streams Fridays on Amazon Prime Video. Episodes are released weekly.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news at TrekMovie.