Star Trek Picard: Maps and Legends

"So all this is about the Zhat Vash hatred of androids."

So here we are at episode two of The Search for Data. Or the disposition of his neurons, anyway. And all I have are questions, questions, and more questions.

Starting with the destruction of Utopia Planitia Shipyards fourteen years ago. Clearly, the android designated F8 (Come on. "Fate"? Really?) was sent instructions before he went postal. Who gave the order? Why did it happen on First Contact Day? Because it was a holiday and there was a skeleton crew, meaning fewer deaths? Did it somehow relate to the Romulan evacuation supernova thingy? Later, Dr. Jurati was reading Isaac Asimov's The Complete Robot. Was that supposed to make us notice that F8 broke all three of Asimov's Laws of Robotics, ending with killing itself?

If you don't know or have forgotten Asimov's three laws, they are:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.  
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

How did the Romulans acquire their very own disconnected Borg cube? Is its acquisition a relatively new thing, or am I forgetting something from a series or movie? If the Romulans hate artificial intelligence so much, why are they doing this particular type of research?

And then there's the Zhat Vash, an even more secret branch of the secretive Romulan Tal Shiar. Why did they send a death squad after Dajh? Well, if they hate artificial intelligence, that could be why. But what is Commodore Oh, the Vulcan head of Starfleet Security (welcome to the series, Tamlyn Tomita), doing associating with Lieutenant Rizzo, a Romulan agent disguised as a human (welcome to the series, Peyton List)? Whose little brother Narek is operating undercover, pun intended? Was anyone else surprised at how quickly Soji and Narek jumped into bed together?

And how come the Zhat Vash are named after Picard's old girlfriend? Coincidence? I think not.

Soji is working on the Romulan-controlled Borg Cube and cares about the assimilated humanoids. They're being freed from their Borg appliances, much like Picard was freed at the end of "The Best of Both Worlds." It seemed obvious to me that Dajh's need to contact Picard must have something to do with not just her relationship with Data, but also the fact that Picard himself was once assimilated like those poor "Nameless Ones." Right?

Picard's old friend Doctor Benayoun from the Stargazer stopped by the vineyard to give Picard some bad news about his parietal lobe. Is that going to turn into "irumodic syndrome"? Was this damage caused by the Borg implant in Picard's brain, or am I reaching?



At least, the knowledge that a brain illness is coming for him and he doesn't have forever – along with Dajh's unexpected death – has pushed Picard into going back to space. Was anyone else super irritated with how rudely and dismissively Admiral Clancy treated Picard when he asked for reinstatement and a ship? How dare she? Picard was even willing to be demoted from Admiral to Captain, a Star Trek tradition. At least Picard still has friends in high and low places. We know he'll get that ship somehow.

While I'm full of questions and that made this episode somewhat unsatisfying, I'm also impressed by what a strong show this already is. Star Trek: Picard feels big budget and movie-like, and I am intrigued by all of the supporting characters. Picard's friends, or caretakers, or whatever, Loris and Zhaban – were they Tal Shiar? How did Picard meet them? Ditto Raffi, the woman with the wild hair that Picard contacted near the end. I'm also intrigued by what's going on with Commodore Oh, Lieutenant Rizzo, and Rizzo's little brother Narek, the Romulan Lounge Lizard.

Not to mention Dahj, whom I hope somehow escaped her assassination attempt using transporter technology, and her twin Soji, who should probably be more careful whom she sleeps with. No matter how hot he is.

Bits:

— The credits are gorgeous. What does it mean, those floating pieces of Picard? Will it make sense by the end of the season?

— Sign on the wall in the Borg cube: "This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation." Lol.

— The references to Earl Grey tea are getting thick on the ground. I tried it a couple of times and didn't like it; thought it tasted like perfume.

— The transporter gates at Starfleet HQ? Cool. Except I'm still creeped out by transporters, and always have been.

— If the attack on Utopia Planitia was in 2385, fourteen years ago, it is now 2399. Or did we know that already?

Quotes:

Utopia Planitia worker 1: "Every other tri-hy station in the yard gets off First Contact Day. Not us. What'd we do wrong?"
Utopia Planitia worker 2: "To have a skeleton crew, you have to have skeletons."

(Geez. Foreshadow much?)

Soji: "Is everything Romulans do a secret?"
Narek: "Ooooh. I'm not at liberty to divulge that."

Picard: "I never really cared for science fiction. I guess I just didn't get it."

(Was that an easter egg? Isn't that what Patrick Stewart said when he started on Next Gen?)

Trill: "I didn't know Romulans could be so hot."

Picard: "Motive?"
Jurati: "I don't know. People in the synthetic humanoid field tend to get a little secret-planny."

Picard: "Laris, I have to do this. I don't yet fully understand all of it, but I know that it's important. And not only to me."
Laris: "No, of course. If it's important to Jean-Luc Picard, it must be important to the whole galaxy."

(Well, yes.)

Picard: (to Zhaban) "You have to stay here with her. The grapes are in far more need of protection than I am."

Interesting episode. How would you rate it? Was there too much set-up and too many unanswered questions for a rating?

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

9 comments:

Rohan said...

Here's a really interesting Reddit post about how the viewer may see Jean-Luc Picard very differently than the rest of Starfleet:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/comments/ew9fg8/the_other_side_of_jeanluc/

Remember that Sisko held Picard in aversion, and Sisko's attitude might reasonably be more widespread in Starfleet.

sunbunny said...

No dog. No Santiago Cabrera. This episode filled me with sadness.

Lots of set up here and without a big flashy fight like the first episode, it felt a little uneventful. Really liking Loris and Zhaban. I hope they take care of Number One when Picard returns to space. UNLESS HE TAKES THE DOG. Which...yeah I like that better. Take the dog, Picard.

milostanfield said...

Thanks for the Reddit link. A great read.

But it confirms for me once again my big gripe/concern about the Star Trek franchise as a whole. They keep going back into the made up "history" to do new shows instead of boldly going into the future where no Trek has gone before. Then they have to walk on eggshells to write new stories that don't step on "history's" toes. Or retrofit something. That leads to "How many Vulcan Admirals can dance on the head of a pin?" type questions (it's 43). I would not want to write to all of that stuff. The story boards for this show must look like those of "Lost" by Season Five. This is what has made the first two eps of "Picard" so expositiony and why your review, Billie, was so questiony. It had to be. So I stand athwart the bow of the Enterprise, with my arm raised yelling "Stop this! OK?" Sorry.

I second the dog in space motion. They did it in "Enterprise", so there is precedent. And when (1) Number One ran up to Dajh as a guard dog but then got friendly after one sniff, and (2) Picard mentioned that Number One has his back when confronting strangers, the phrase "plot point" entered my mind. So there's definitely hope Sunbunny. I'm more than ready for a dog to help save the universe. Woof!

CoramDeo said...

This is such a middle. Middles always suffer, especially before the end. This is the second of the first three, which are reportedly a block. All three were directed by Hanelle Culpepper, and were shown at the premiere. I expect we'll have a much clearer picture, and thus a better ability t judge this episode, after next week.

Antony Clark said...

I'm loving that this show is a "slow burn", and though this episode didn't have much in the way of action, I'm totally ok with that. The character moments are quickly building a world I look forward to spending a lot more time in.

Billie Doux said...

Can I just say that smart comments make me happy? Thanks so much.

And CoramDeo, that's good news, I didn't know that. I'm now glad I'm reviewing next week's episode, too.

milostanfield said...

"Can I just say that smart comments make me happy? Thanks so much."

We're just trying to live up to this site's example.

You might want to try Twining's "Lady Grey" tea. A lighter version of Earl Grey without the heavy, perfumy bergamot hit. A nice light afternoon tea. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Still loving it.

Yes, Laris and Zhaban are Tal Shiar according to Countdown, the not very good and not very canon prequel comic to the series. It saddens me that we'll probably not see more of them once Picard eventually lives Earth.

2399 was also known, although it's probably the first time that it can be deduced from the episodes itself. While Stewart is 79, Picard is around 94 at the time of the series (was 59 at the beginning of TNG).

Wish I could look half as good when I'm 59... assuming I reach 59

TJ said...

I have to ask a stupid question.

Where are the Borgs? Were they completely destroyed by Janeway in Endgame? Or did she just neutralize one queen of many?
It was a long time ago I saw ST: First Contact, but didn't Data destroy the queen back then aswell?

Anyways, I'm loving this show. Can't wait for ep three!