Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 8 – Debuted Thursday, March 12, 2020
Written by Michael Chabon
Directed by Maja Vrvilo
Picard and Soji make their way back onto La Sirena, triggering Rios to remember something dark from his past. Raffi talks to the disjointed pieces of Rios’s psyche, in the form of holograms of various ethnicities, to uncover the secrets in Rios’s mind and how they might connect to the mission at hand. Meanwhile, on the Artifact, a familiar face teams up with Elnor to make their way to the Queencell and try and gain control of the Cube.
[WARNING: Spoilers from here on]
Definitely one of the strongest episodes of Picard thus far, “Broken Pieces” is chock full of new information — and new mysteries — that kick the movement of the plot into high gear. It is probably the episode where we learn the most new information, but at the same time, the episode doesn’t feel overwhelming and still finds time for some very touching moments between Soji and Picard as they look back, together, on Data’s life.
Everyone gather round the glowing carousel of doom
The episode opens with a flashback to the “Grief World” where we see members of the Zhat Vash huddled around a glowing carousel of sorts (or maybe it’s one of those little tables that come in Pizza boxes?). A couple of familiar faces are there — Commodore Oh, Narissa Rizzo, and her aunt Ramdha, who we met in the psych ward of The Artifact a few episodes ago. Here we learn what has been frustrating a lot of fans: why in the world are the Zhat Vash so afraid of synthetics? And the answer: in what is sort of like the ultimate mind meld, the Zhat Vash absorb visceral visions of some kind of galaxy-scale apocalypse that occurred 200,000 years ago. An apocalypse apparently caused due to the advancement of synthetic life. The visions are so visceral that they cause most of the members of this elite circle of friends to instantly commit suicide either by disruptor or by ripping their faces apart. Grim. This vision is apparently very bad and very intense. (Side note: did anyone else glimpse quickly flashed image of a volcanic lava lake in this scene?)
Then, in just one line, we learn that Raffi’s “conspiracy theory” about the attack on Mars may not be so crackpot after all. Oh informs Narissa that they must begin their work… on Mars.
Flash forward to present day where Narissa tells a comatose Ramdha that they have discovered the location of the synth home world. Their time is finally here. Narissa also reveals that Ramdha and the other members of the assimilated Tal Shiar ship, “broke” the Borg cube by the “sheer force of her despair.” Despair based on the visions put in her mind on the Grief World? I guess so? This doesn’t make much sense, but it serves to remind us that these visions MEAN BUSINESS and are powerful enough to catalyze the formation of a cultish group like the Zhat Vash.
Annika has work to do
While Narissa finds ways to rid the Artifact of the remaining xBs, Elnor continues to fight for his life, taking a flash grenade in the face just before our favorite Fenris Ranger, Seven of Nine, comes to save the day. We get to feel one last beat of sadness when Seven asks, “Where’s Hugh?” But, there’s no time to stop and mourn. These two have got to get to the queencell and try and take over the cube. Not really sure what the plan is after that, but let’s take it one step at a time.
Upon arriving in the queencell, Seven quickly plugs in — Borg Queen style — and begins to command her new army of still Borgified Borg. But this whole plan is thwarted rather quickly as Narissa has the Borg jettisoned into space. Well, damn. Narissa and her Romulan buddies warp off to find the synth home world, leaving Seven and Elnor safe, if stranded.
The broken pieces start to fit together
Our heroes Picard and Soji have now reunited with the rest of the ragtag La Sirena crew. But as soon as they beam in, something goes terribly amiss with Rios. His vision goes blurry, and he can’t believe his eyes as soon as they are set on her. Soji seems to have struck a pretty powerful chord with Rios. Is he okay? In response to this unsettledness, Rios decides to hermit himself away with a bottle of something strong in his quarters and takes a little trip down memory lane by opening up a box with a Starfleet insignia emblazoned on the side. Weird!
Raffi doesn’t like the sound of Rios’s self-quarantine, so she decides to take a deep dive into his psyche with the tools right in front of her — La Sirena’s emergency holograms, which each seem to represent a different piece of Rios’s mind. This was a super fun sequence! The banter between the holograms was hilarious, and Santiago Cabrera really got to show off his acting chops.
As Raffi prods deeper, she starts to realize that whatever is bothering Rios is connected to a theory she has had for a long time—one that probably got her kicked out of Starfleet, and definitely alienated her from her family. It was neat to see Raffi exploit the unique knowledge sets of each of the holos to solve few unresolved questions for herself, including that the “Conclave of Eight” is the name of a place, not a group of people, and that it likely refers to an astronomically improbable eight-star system. I’ll note that this is tangentially a really cool real life science thing. To date, there have been two septenary star systems discovered (that’s a system with seven suns), AR Cassiopeia and Nu Scorpii, but we don’t know of any systems with more than seven stars.
Having Raffi put together what is going on with Rios in tandem with putting together the pieces of her theory about the Mars attack really drove home for me how everything we have seen thus far in the series is connected. And, it didn’t feel contrived.
Jurati’s road to redemption, and Picard’s strange need to go to Starfleet
While Raffi puts the “broken” pieces together (yes, I’m going to keep using that callback), Jurati has a bit of a journey to take, and Picard has an admiral to holo-skype. I’m so glad that Jurati’s “betrayal” was found out now, rather than during some endgame scene in which our heroes are tied to the train tracks and Jurati maniacally laughs while explaining how she tricked them ALL ALONG! I can also appreciate that she came to terms with what she has done on her own (possibly with some prodding from Rios last episode). Now is the start to her long journey to redemption.
Meanwhile, Picard is off having a holo-convo with that one f**king admiral (why does she keep having to drop F-bombs? It was awkward the first time, and now it just feels like a running gag). This part of the story, I must admit, I really don’t get. Why does Picard want to keep coming back to Starfleet? After they treated him so poorly the last time, now he wants to go back? The stated motivation for going to Soji’s home world is to take her home, but it seems like they are expecting a fleet of Romulans to greet them when they arrive. Why else would Picard need an entire squadron? This felt like some necessary setup for next week’s episode, in addition to giving us a new destination… Deep Space 12.
“He loved you”
In the middle of all of this mystery-solving, Picard and Soji sit down for a much needed chat over some food. The two have been through a whirlwind of new places, new people, new information, and together they’ve helped Soji learn her true nature. Soji is going through an existential crisis, and Picard is supposed to be some sort of mentor figure to her, so it felt right that the writers took the time to give them a real, powerful bonding moment. We also get a hint that Soji may actually have more insight into her own history (and into Data) than we ever realized.
Watching Picard tell Soji about what Data was like was a real treat for us lifelong fans. Hearing the voice of Jean-Luc Picard talk about Data, and also admit some difficult truths about what he used to be like, is one of those things we all came here to see. We all know it: Picard used to be a bit of a jerk. He loosened up over the seven seasons of TNG, but he always felt uncomfortable expressing emotions. Contrast that to the Jean-Luc Picard we’ve seen in the movies and even more so to the Picard we’ve seen thus far in Picard. He and Data were close, in their own special way, and so it feels heartwarming to hear Jean-Luc talk about that. At the same time, it’s a bit heartbreaking that it took until after Data’s death for Picard to be able to express it.
If you like it then you should put a bow on it
Normally, I’m not a fan of expository scenes in which the main characters all tell each other things solely for the benefit of the audience, which is exactly what happened in the final scene of “Broken Pieces.” And while I would have found it a bit more palatable if it was clear who exactly each of our characters is speaking to (they all seem to already have all of the same information?), I still felt this scene was necessary to recap everything we learned in the episode. This was a plot-heavy week, and the writers did a nice job of tying it all up in a neat little bow for us. Side note: is anyone else as distracted as I am by that fact that La Sirena’s mess is just three picnic tables?
In the final sequence of the episode, the characters (and Soji in particular) seem to really fall into their roles. Soji is really accepting her whole self and taking charge of her own destiny. Quickly, Rios reminds her why he, and the rest of the crew, are there and solidify the idea that they are there as a team. Soji doesn’t have to go this alone. Picard is the mentor who gets out of the way when he needs to, just as he likes to think he did for Data.
We may have had a lot answered this week, but we are also left with a lot of questions. Rios met Soji’s other “twin” so many years ago aboard his old ship, the ibn Majid. Up until now, we’ve been thinking there were only two of the Soji-type synth. Are we about to come face to face with a planet full of Sojis? Just what is the plan of the Zhat Vash once they reach the synth home world? Will Starfleet actually step up to help Picard and his cause? And what’s the deal with Admiral “F-bomb” Clancy? Isn’t she evil, or… something (recall she phoned up Commodore Oh as soon as Picard left her office)?
All in all, I absolutely loved this episode. Some fans don’t seem to like the “mystery box” style of doing things (and, I can feel that way at times, too), but I have to admit that I was fully sucked into the story this week. Really loving the mystery, so let’s hope it pays off!
But, what really sold me on the episode was the final conversation between Picard and Rios. This show can certainly be darker in tone than any Trek before it, and I’ve certainly been vocal when I dislike how far Picard has taken things, but now the bill of goods being sold to me finally looks like it may come to pass. Just wait, they said, we need the shadows to have the light. Maybe that’s true after all. To show you what I mean, I’ll leave you with this quote by the great Jean-Luc Picard:
“They may be right about what happened 200,000 years ago. The past is written, but the future is left for us to write, and we have powerful tools, Rios: openness, optimism, and the spirit of curiosity. All they have is secrecy, and fear, and fear is the great destroyer, Rios.”
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.