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Star Trek: Picard, Season 1, Episode 3 “The End is the Beginning” Teleplay by Michael Chabon & James Duff Directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper Star Trek: Picard, Season 1, Episode 4 “Absolute Candor” Story by Michael Chabon Directed by Jonathan Frakes Review by Clinton
In my review of the first two episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” I likened the story to a Dixon Hill holonovel. Now, this additional pair of episodes has added another element of mystery. Specifically, why has it taken four episodes to gather the crew that will set off on this mission?
Is it so we could have the startling reveal of Seven (Jeri Ryan) in the last minute of hour four? As interesting as that was, I don’t think it was the motivating factor.
Perhaps we need the time to get to know Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Carbera), his ship, the La Sirena, and his multitude of Emergency Hologram (EH) avatars, each prone to bursts of psychoanalysis. But no, that isn’t the reason either.
I think the primary reason we plodded along so slowly is so that we could get the full picture of where Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) exists today. After all, this is a man we have not seen for twenty years. We bring certain assumptions with us. How he speaks. How he thinks. His honor and his integrity. But, as this story has unfolded, it seems that most of those traits have fallen by the wayside. He is as broken as he believes Starfleet and the Federation to be.
It is not just Admiral Clancy who calls out Picard for his hubris. Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) does it, too. Twice. Once when Picard expresses surprise that Starfleet calls his bluff when he threatens to resign if the Romulan rescue mission is halted. He says that he never would have believed they would accept his resignation. Raffi, a look of harsh disapproval on her face, replies, “Of course you wouldn’t.” That is followed, years later, by Raffi’s comment to Picard when he comes to her tiny shack, asking her for help. Raffi, her life ruined by Picard’s actions, listens to his story about wanting to rescue someone he has never even met. Then, again, with that disdain in her voice, replies, “Wow, I don’t even know what to say. The obvious way to go would be ‘You’ve got some goddamn nerve.’ But I gather you’ve already heard that from your buddy, Clancy.” Picard never even came once to visit her. But now that he needs something, he appears as if out of thin air. She sees a flaw in Picard. A hubris that is beyond reason.
Then there is the matter of Elnor (Evan Evagora). The young Romulan evacuee who looked up to Jean-Luc Picard. Then, when the Romulan rescue mission was halted, Picard never returned to Vashti. Elnor continued to be raised by the Qowat Milat warrior nuns, who were unable to find the young man a more suitable home. When Picard does return, he is hoping to enlist Elnor, who has now grown to be an outstanding warrior, on his quest to locate Dahj’s android sister. But when Elnor asks, “Why do you need me?” Picard replies with explanations of needing someone younger and stronger along on the mission. And Picard feels his need to locate a woman he has never met is criterion enough for Elnor to bind his sword to Picard’s quest. Elnor replies, seething with anger, “Now that I have use to you? Now that I have value to you? You left me on my own, old man. I see no reason not to do the same.”
Feelings were often hard for Picard, but, over time, we had seen him open up. He has collapsed in on himself.
And what are we to make of the fact that when Picard dreams, his thoughts do not turn to the people he has wronged. No. He dreams of Data. He grieves for Data. And has done so for two decades. It is as if making the ultimate sacrifice for Picard is the only way to get his attention now. That is not a healthy frame of mind.
The story chose to linger on these things. We will, presumably, see a change in Picard’s attitude. But this level of damage is distressing.
Next episode: Stardust City Rag
Random thoughts and observations:
After a more than 50 year association with “Star Trek”, it was nice to see Vasquez Rocks finally get on-screen credit. Somewhere the Gorn Captain is shedding a tear of joy. Or maybe that’s just sand in his eye.
Seeing Soji Asha and Narek do a variant of the “young lovers ice skate at Rockefeller Center” rom-com trope was interesting.
As if there was any doubt, we learned that everyone in Starfleet believes that Commodore Oh is a Vulcan. Apparently the protocols that surely are in place to protect against dual personas, like Ash Tyler/Voq, or shape-shifters, like the Founders, don’t work well enough to distinguish a Vulcan from their distant cousins, the Romulans.
I have grave reservations about Dr. Agnes Jurati. It seems odd that Commodore Oh simply asked a few questions about the doctor’s meetings with Picard and then walked away, letting Jurati head straight to Picard. Raffi even points out that no one has run a security check on her.
Also, do you get the feeling that the producers are banking on the fact that some of us look at Dr. Jurati as a version of Dr. Gillian Taylor, the marine biologist in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”? Even a little?
Wow! There are a lot of good, old fashioned books still around in the 24th century!
I don’t know what to make of Asha’s comment “The idea that former Borg might be able to create a…shared narrative framework for understanding their trama, rooted in deep archetypes, but as relevant as today’s news. That’s just what I’m hoping to do.” I assume that is important, but it sounds like New Age word scramble.
It looks like the Romulans are as incestuous as ever.