Star Trek: Picard Season 2, Episode 3 – Debuted Thursday, March 17, 2022
Written by Kiley Rossetter & Christopher Monfette
Directed by Lea Thompson
In another strong outing, Picard mixes action, character exploration, and some fun and familiar Trek setups.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“Welcome to the Earth of the 21st century.”
Picking up where we left off—the standoff on La Sirena—Seven’s evil hubby calls her final bluff as “President Hansen” and Raffi settles the issue with a quickie divorce via phaser. Time to leave this twisted Earth, with a little help from a terrifying Queen who takes matters in hand by plugging herself in, dispatching their pursuers, and warping the ship around the sun for their trip back in time. With Elnor’s condition grave and amidst the chaos of battle, Q pops in to haunt Picard with “This is the only kind of life you understand.” After some trippy close-ups and backward effects, the crew finds themselves back at Earth and back in time. Out of power, the best Rios can do is a “controlled crash,” and Picard picks a remote location he calls “home” to avoid La Sirena becoming a high-profile UFO.
Raffi’s heart breaks as Elnor’s life slips away with all lifesaving power used up by the Queen, who’s defended by Picard as he needs her for his mission. As the crew grieves, Picard struggles to keep them together with his not-so-helpful plea to “press on.” He has lost their confidence, and Raffi lashes out in anger, blaming Jean-Luc for playing another galactic game with Q. Focusing on the clue to find “The Watcher” and believing they can undo everything and bring the young Romulan back, Raffi finds her own focus: “What I want is to talk about how to fix the timeline and not what it was like to watch him die.” After a quick team briefing to avoid “butterflies,” Raffi, Seven, and Rios suit up and beam out for 21st-century Los Angeles.
“You’re killing it, 2024.”
The barely functional transporter separates the trio, sending each to very different welcomes. Seven beams to a nice park, witnessed by a fawning girl who takes her for a superhero. Raffi arrives at a homeless camp and is immediately mugged at gunpoint. She effortlessly dispatches the thief, taking his money for their “apocalypse fund.” Once reunited with Seven, her anger remains, now aimed at this past world and why it didn’t “collapse sooner than it did.” Dark. Seven’s lack of outrage only pisses her off more, especially when, enjoying her new Borg-free look, she charms her way past a guard to get to the top of the LA’s tallest building for some “Watcher” scanning. “You and 2024 should get a room.” Jealous of a timeline?
Rios’ entry was even more impactful, as he beamed in 20 feet off the ground landing with a thud and ended up in a free clinic with some dislocated fingers and a concussion. Doctor Teresa flags Cristóbal as one of her “no hospital, no police, no papers crowd” as she patches him up with some bonus flirting. Eager to get back on mission, he is slowed down as his “weird clothes” are being washed and a kid has found his badge, reminding Rios of an annoying Vulcan as he uses logic to demand payment to return it. But before he can finish the deal, the clinic gets raided by immigration.
“Same leopard, same spots.”
Back on La Sirena, Picard needs to get the Queen back online, and Agnes has a crazy plan to plug herself in to kickstart the Borg… with the catch that she has to do it before getting assimilated. The admiral is skeptical but has no other ideas, so he is assigned to babysit her subconsciousness. In a tour de force two-hander, Picard gets hit with a deluge of Jurati TMI, including how he brings out her daddy issues. When the Queen gets dangerously stronger, he pulls the plug just before Agnes becomes the latest drone.
“Hello, Locutus.” The Borg Queen is back, bright-eyed and bushy-torsoed, and now that we’re before that time divergence, she has the “clarity of vision” to make demands for info on The Watcher, starting with the ship. Also, legs. But as her majesty was winding up some good monologuing about Picard’s “deeply flawed inability to not hope in the face of hopelessness,” Agnes jumps in with a key update: She stole the Watcher info while inside Queenie. Twist! The Queen is impressed… and that’s a dangerous thing, or so she says. Now, all that is left is to reunite with the crew, but Rios ignored the butterfly warnings by getting all gallant to help the doc, leading to them both being hauled away by the cops… with the badge left behind.
Something to say
Star Trek: Picard’s second season continues to impress with yet another unique entry that carries through the season arc but still delivers a complete story on its own. Using an almost curious mix of action, humor, horror, and heart, it all adds up to something more with heavy messages about privilege, race, and class. These themes from the varied character visits to contemporary Los Angeles gave the title “Assimilation” double meaning, beyond the Borg drama happening onboard the ship. While traveling back to contemporary times has been done before on Trek (and elsewhere), the episode played well with both the messages and fish-out-of-water fun. But some of these messages may have landed better if the characters didn’t indulge in as much brutality as they dispatched various Confederation goons over the last couple of episodes.
The excellent cast shines throughout. Evan Evagora rises to the challenge of adding some humor to a death scene. Michelle Hurd’s heartbreaking reaction was impactful, although it felt a bit contrived to have Raffi singularly impacted by a death that should be felt by all. It was Alison Pill that delivered the strongest performance of “Assimilation,” showing impressive range and holding her own with Sir Patrick Stewart and Annie Wersching’s deliciously terrifying Borg Queen.
Through these three episodes, we are seeing the development of a number of intriguing arcs and pairings, with the promise of a lot more to come between Agnes and the Queen. And there is the curious dynamic of Raffi dealing with a Seven who finds herself enjoying this era where she isn’t being scorned for being a Borg. Picard has his own personal ghost in the form of Q, haunting him from the sidelines. “Assimilation” also introduced us to Dr. Teresa, and actress Sol Rodriguez shows immediate chemistry with Santiago Cabrera’s Rios. The combination of time travel and her free clinic is already giving off some Edith Keeler vibes.
Tomorrow is yesterday
Q only makes a brief appearance, but his machinations continue to loom large. The mystery of what he has done in the past remains intriguing, especially how it connects personally to Picard and “what else has been lost in the wake of your fear.” Besides moving back in time, the episode did get us closer to the mysterious “Watcher,” identifying a location but not yet the exact divergence date in time.
One curiosity about this adventure back in time is there has been no outright mention of World War III, a pivotal moment in Trek history that led to a series of events culminating in First Contact. They have traveled back in time to just two years before, so you’d think someone would mention the war, but so far the only hint was Jurati noting the lack of fallout in the atmosphere when they arrived at Earth, identifying it as pre-war. Raffi also hinted at the bleak future of fighting over resources and how the “future we saw starts right here.” But one could imagine the “Confederation” timeline is one with a different outcome for the war, leading to centuries of eradicating aliens.
There was also a subtle hint about a plot point that is expected to come up later, which was the billboard for the “Europa Mission.” Unlike the real NASA Europa Clipper mission set to launch in 2024, this billboard showed a manned landing on the icy Jovian moon with the unnecessary meta slogan “To Boldly Go.”
The first three episodes have set up an intriguing new season of Picard with a whole different tone, energy, and style. Each episode has had its own flavor, but all have carried the overall story forward. While not as strong as the first two excellent entries, “Assimilation” was still a solid and entertaining outing, keeping up a good balance of action, humor character, and lore. There were some moments when the pacing dragged and some character contrivances, but they were outweighed by strong performances and crisp action punctuated with outstanding visual effects.
- This is the first time directing Star Trek for Lea Thompson, a veteran actress who began directing television in the 2000s. Thompson says she is a Trekkie, and thanked showrunner (and Back to the Future superfan) Terry Matalas for the opportunity.
- This is the second writing credit for Christopher Monfette, who joined in season two as a supervising producer. Monfette previously worked with Matalas in the 12 Monkeys writers’ room.
- This is the first script credit for staff writer Kiley Rossetter, who started as a writers’ room assistant in season one.
- For the second episode in a row, Isa Briones (Soji) does not appear and is not credited.
- When the Queen takes control of La Sirena, various displays change to green Borg graphics and even the engines and torpedoes are tinted green.
- The ships pursuing La Sirena appeared to be Confederation versions of Starfleet Nova and Steamrunner class ships.
- The warp slingshot scene was an homage to the time travel sequence in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- A line of dialog in the previous episode indicated that the Queen’s nanoprobes have been neutralized, which could explain how Jurati wasn’t easily assimilated.
- Elnor’s Qowat Milat medallion was inscribed in Romulan with “Sem n’hak kon,” meaning “Now is the only moment.” Raffi began wearing the medallion after he died.
- Jurati warned if they end up in a hospital they could be noticed due to their future “ID implants and vaccination chips.”
- Teresa tells her son to do his homework or he can’t watch Rick and Morty.
- The establishing shot of Los Angeles uses a 2015 cover by German DJ Freischwimmer of the 1965 Mamas and the Papas classic song “California Dreamin'”
- The establishing shot of Los Angeles included the Santa Monica Pier and Griffith Park Observatory, both of which were visited in 1996 by the crew of the USS Voyager in “Future’s End.”
- The coordinates Jurati found for The Watcher were 34.0488 North, -118.2518 West, which would be Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.
- When searching for The Watcher, Raffi got a blip on her tricorder for an alien signal around MacArthur Park, which is about 1.5 miles from Pershing Square.
- The Markridge Industrial Tower was shot at the Wilshire Grand Center, the tallest building in Los Angeles.
- Markridge is another 12 Monkeys Easter egg for former 12 Monkeys showrunner Terry Matalas.
- The homeless camp had a sign indicating it as a “Sanctuary District,” like the one visited by Commander Sisko in 2024 San Francisco in the DS9 two-parter “Past Tense.”
More to come
Our review of Star Trek: Discovery episode 413 (“Coming Home”) will be up later on Thursday.
And every Friday, the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe and discusses the latest episode. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on Fridays where Paramount+ is available around the world. In Canada, it airs on CTV Sci-Fi Channel on streams on Crave on Thursdays. Picard is also available on Fridays on Amazon Prime Video around the world.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news and analysis.