Star Trek Picard: The End is the Beginning

"I never dreamed that Starfleet would give in to intolerance and fear."

Good science fiction mirrors our own society and allows us to see it a new way. The attack on Mars feels like the twenty-fourth century version of 9/11. Someone set up that attack in order to deep six the Romulan rescue. Was it also intended to destroy the soul of Starfleet?

The flashback to fourteen years ago showed a confused and stunned Picard, who had just presented an ultimatum to Starfleet. Instead of capitulating, Starfleet called his bluff and fired him. He was so thrown that he retreated to his vineyard and left Raffi behind to fight for herself. (Was she his first officer? She did have three pips on her collar.)

Apparently, Raffi was also fired, and the past fourteen years haven't been good for her, either. Can I just go on a fan flutter about her amazing RV parked at Vasquez Rocks? And I have to give her points for the nerve to call Picard "JL." Nobody calls Jean-Luc Picard "JL!" (Plus, and I can't state this strongly enough, I love her hair. Especially when you compare it to the rigid hairstyles in Next Gen.)

Raffi told Picard that she had evidence that someone in the upper tiers at Starfleet was behind the attack on Mars, while Picard pointed out that Romulan assassins wouldn't be operating on Earth if the Federation weren't allowing it. Wow, do I hate the sound of that. And it brings me to that impressive attack on Picard's home in France by one of those very Romulan death squads. Fortunately, Picard has his own death squad at home, and disruptors hidden in holsters under his coffee table. They weren't enough to stop this murder/suicide thing with the gross out spitting acid, though.

Raffi did find Picard a small starship, owned and piloted by a macho ex-Starfleet guy named Rios – any resemblance to Han Solo purely not coincidental, but I liked him, anyway. He has interesting philosophical reading choices, and he enjoys bantering with his EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram). I was wondering why his EMH was modeled on himself but with a different accent, and all I could think of was that it was fun way to tell the audience that Rios trusts nobody but himself.



I do like this new crew. They're all flawed and quirky, and Raffi and Rios in particular hinted at interesting backstories I'd like to hear at some point. Dr. Jurati has given us the least to latch on to, but I particularly liked the way she talked Picard into letting her join the crew. Does that mean she's the most likely to be a mole of some kind?

And I liked the racy red starship with the white markings. It seemed a bit roomy for a crew of only four. I think it needs a couple of former Tal Shiar spies and a good-sized pit bull to make it complete. No, seriously. How could Picard leave three terrific characters back on Earth to fight off Romulan death squads while harvesting grapes?

Meanwhile over at the Borg cube, it turns out that Hugh, formerly known as Third of Five, is the executive director of the Reclamation Project. Since he was the first assimilated being after Picard to be rescued and reclaimed from the Borg, that makes sense, and it was nice to see him again. (Plus, great makeup, guys.)



While I liked the reintroduction to Hugh, the long scene where Soji gently questioned the reclaimed Romulan Ramdha turned into weirdness when she and another Romulan went on the attack, calling Soji "the destroyer," the "end of all."

Let's try to put this all together. Romulans are and have always been afraid of synthetic humans, which must have something to do with their mythological stories about synths destroying them all. Which, interestingly enough, seems to have happened with the attack on Mars by synths derailing the rescue of the Romulan people. Why would Soji and Dahj be the mythological Romulan destroyers represented by characters on Romulan tarot cards? Is Soji going to destroy what's left of the Romulan people? Is there going to be time travel involved at some future point?

Finally, Rizzo (Peyton List) got an ear job and turned up on the Borg cube to check in with her baby brother Narek, and acted as if she were jealous of Soji in an incestuous Game of Thrones sort of way. Hmm.

Bits:

— Raffi was vaping "snakeleaf" that she grew herself. Rios was smoking a cigar. Very un-Next Gen.

— Hugh referred to the beings reclaimed from the Borg as XBs. Poor things.

— The Romulan tarot cards were called "pixmit."

— Romulan houses have false front doors. That's an interesting tidbit.

— Soji and Dahj's mother is so obviously fake. And how could she make Soji pass out? And why?

— Soji said that she could get people to do whatever she wanted when she asked. Was that just optimism, or is she literally hypnotic in some way?

— I particularly liked the bit where Picard glanced at the captain's chair on the new ship and walked past it.

— I also really enjoyed the scene at the Daystrom Institute where Dr. Jurati was shocked by the arrival of Commodore Oh wearing sunglasses. There was something about the combination of the eyebrows and the ears with those sunglasses that made me laugh. Plus, let's not forget that mirror universe people are ultra sensitive to light.

— As a lifelong Star Trek geek, can I say again how cool it was that they went to Vasquez Rocks? It's such an iconic Star Trek location. I had planned to visit it when I lived in L.A., but never got around to it.

— Jonathan Del Arco returned as Hugh, who was previously in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "I Borg" and "Descent, Part 2."

— The Agents of Doux were recently discussing assigning "homework," as in suggesting for new fans an episode of earlier Trek they could watch if they're unfamiliar with the older shows. This time, I'd assign "I Borg," the episode that introduced Hugh (see above). But only if you've already seen the excellent two-parter, "The Best of Both Worlds." It was the best Next Gen two-parter ever, and not to be missed when it comes to any story about the Borg.

Quotes:

Raffi: "Pro tip for future reference: On your next top secret, unauthorized, synthetic girl rescue mission, try not telling the CNC of Starfleet exactly what you're planning on doing. I don't remember you being such a chatterbox back in the day."

EMH: (to Rios) "So are we excited? Intimidated? Maybe a teensy bit starstruck? Jean-Luc Picard! Chief contact with the Q Continuum, Arbiter of Succession for the Klingon Empire, savior of Earth from Borg invasion, captain of the Enterprises D and E. The man even worked alongside the great Spock!"

Laris: (to Picard) "I suppose you always had one eye on the stars."

Ramdha: "I remember you from tomorrow."
Soji: "No, Ramdha. We've never met."

Ramdha: (to Soji) "Which sister are you? The one who dies, or the one who lives?"

Rizzo: "I'm back."
Narek: "So are your ears."

Picard: "Engage."
I'll admit it, I got chills.

This episode was over too fast, and I'm very much looking forward to next week's, as we're off to Freecloud to find Bruce Maddox. Three out of four triangular Romulan tarot cards,

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

11 comments:

CoramDeo said...

It's really subtle, and they don't point it out at all, but Rios actually has more than one hologram. The first one is his EMH, but the second one (with the accent) is an ENH, or Emergency Navigational Hologram. This is a first for Trek, although the Doctor fantasized about being an Emergency Command Hologram.

CoramDeo said...

I really liked this episode, more than the last one. I'm ready to see what the show has in store beyond all this setup. Did the sunglasses Commodore Oh was wearing bother anyone else?

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, those sunglasses! Is it just that they don't "go" with those ears and eyebrows?

Thanks for the thing about the ENH, CoramDeo. I suspected, but wasn't sure. I'm for all sorts of holograms with multiple accents. :)

CoramDeo said...

It's mostly for me that they just didn’t change them at all from current day sunglasses. You could have put those sunglasses in a show set today and it wouldn’t be in any way out of place. Also, she was in uniform.

sunbunny said...

I *think* the title might be a reference to Mary Queen of Scots, whose motto was "En ma fin est mon commencement" or "in my end is my beginning."

Billie Doux said...

sunbunny, thanks for that. I'd actually thought about trying to figure out the meaning of the title and it slipped my mind.

milostanfield said...

For "homework" I would also recommend "The Measure Of A Man" from Season Two. It's about whether or not sentient artificial life forms have "human" rights. Relevant in this series and today.

"Best Of Both Worlds" was maybe the best Trek episode ever. Great rec for any reason. It's a close second to my favorite: "The Inner Light", especially the final scene. I melt down every time I see it. Thanks!

Antony Clark said...

The sunglasses would seem to confirm she's a romulan, not a Vulcan, as Vulcans wouldn't need them because of the inner eyelids (see TOS).

I hated that vaping still exists in the 24th century. Rios smoking a cigar somehow didn't seem as offensive to me as the vaping, though I could have done without that too.

skyemaidstone said...

"Picard: "Engage."
I'll admit it, I got chills."

Me too, me too. I'm not afraid to admit it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Loved this episode. The crew and ship give me a bit of an Expanse vibe (which is never bad thing).

I really like where this show is going and I already find it vastly superior to Discovery which almost became a "hate watch" by the end (ok that's probably not even a phrase).

I like how people here are so much less nit-picky over minute details on this site compared to others. I'm a massive Star Trek fan (I have a giant The Motion Picture poster signed by the ToS crew and Gene on my wall) and I've watched pretty much all of it (except TAS). I just don't feel the need to pick tiny holes in everything. You could do that to pretty much any episode of any version of Star Trek if you wanted.

Nice review btw :)

Billie Doux said...

skyemaidstone, thanks so much for kind words.

I've noticed that same thing. Or is it that long time fans feel that the original shows are always perfect and the new ones are never good enough? I noticed that in a couple of the big Star Trek groups.

sunbunny said...

skyemaidstone, hatewatching is absolutely a thing. And how I used to watch Once Upon a Time (shudder). I'm not a Trekkie, but the nitpicking bothers me in other fandoms. Like in Doctor Who, people will just go crazy over it. Like these scifi shows that have been on television for LITERAL DECADES are going to contradict themselves at some point. Get over it. I'd much rather watch a good episode of something that contradicts canon than a bad episode without a continuity flaw in it.