Star Trek Picard: The Impossible Box

When Picard learns that his current quest may be intertwined with his experiences with an old enemy, the Borg, he tries to get to the Artifact with his team in an action-packed episode that gives the payoff for several long shots from the first few episodes.

The opening episode had some action but the previous few have been in many ways exposition to get our various pieces in place. We're now seeing the story drag those pieces together, and the adrenaline is starting to tick up as they crash.

The Romulans are following a complex path – trying to understand Soji-the-secret-android's motivations by learning about and interpreting her dreams. The Romulans wonder why a robot would dream and postulate these are a fail-safe keeping Soji's psychology from freaking about about her clearly superhuman abilities. This is, they claim, what enables Soji to keep her deception going and pretend to be human. By taking this approach they hope to avoid activating Soji and to learn about any other android pairs. So Narek confronts Soji with a fact about her own android nature which she can't dispute, and waits to see what happens.

I feel this episode is giving us a little more depth to Picard's new crew. Raffi pulls off a deception getting them diplomatic immunity, at great cost but giving a fantastic performance. Rios is surprisingly tender and supportive of her. Compared to the kind of tight knit crew Picard ran on the Enterprise, though, this seems like a much more lonely space.

Watching Picard as they approach the cube is painful. His very physical, even dizzying reaction is well-reflected in the camera work, from the initial research projecting the image of the Borg over his face to his arrival at the Artifact. His meeting with Hugh is a bright moment in the miasma. The crew's own conversation emphasizes he's on his own here – nobody he's with now was there.

This is paralleled by Soji's own pain as she realizes all her personal things are faked, only 37 months old. Her pain is kind of the inverse of Picard's pain, actually. He had everything real taken from him. She realized everything she'd been given was fake. Narek's manipulation, and regret, seemed real as he danced her down her memories with a kind of Romulan psychoanalysis. Our storylines speed up as Picard and Soji inexorably come together, with Hugh and Picard hunting desperately for Soji and Soji herself on the run from some sort of Romulan radiation trap in the Impossible Box – then beaming out to Nepenthe, leaving Elnor behind with Hugh to clean up the mess.

So Soji is now activated but doesn't seem to know Picard the way Dahj does. Will she know more by next episode?

Replayed on the Holodeck

Scenes of Santiago Cabrera working out with his shirt off. These greatly advance the plot.

Hugh comforting Picard on the ship and helping Picard keep hold of his identity despite Picard being triggered by the ghost of Locutus.

Hugh clearly knowing more about Borg ships than he's shared. And Narek. He does a good job looking innocuous, doesn't he?

I don't get why Elnor had to stay behind. It would make more sense for him to continue protecting Picard and go with them to Nepenthe.

I loved the triple metaphor of the impossible box – the puzzle box, the Borg cube and their own impossible escape and of course Soji, who is a kind of puzzle in herself.

Stated for the Captain's Log

Jurati: I've never slept with the captain of anything before.
Rios: I – I recommend it.

Hugh: I take it she's in serious danger.
Picard: What... Why would you ask that?
Hugh: A hunch. Something about her. Something about you coming this far to this place. And something about the dashing, young Romulan spy who showed up two weeks ago pretending not to be asking questions about her.

The Journey, in Retrospective

Five out of five reclaimed Borg.

7 comments:

CoramDeo said...

Without a doubt my favorite since the premiere. I really felt Picard as Picard here, in a way I haven't since 'Remembrance'.

Patrick said...

Picard's reunion with Hugh tugged at my heartstrings a lot more than I was expecting it to.

Billie Doux said...

It was really nice to see Hugh with Picard again, and I loved their interaction.

Way back when "The Best of Both Worlds" originally aired, I was totally creeped out by the fact that the Borg assimilated beings without using anesthetic, and how horrifying it must have been for all those victims as well as Picard when it happened to him. This episode reminded me of that, a lot.

Joseph, you wrote, "I don't get why Elnor had to stay behind. It would make more sense for him to continue protecting Picard and go with them to Nepenthe." Me, either. It made no sense.

CoramDeo said...

I think the reason Elnor stayed behind is one of plot, and that's probably so Hugh doesn't just get instantly murdered next episode.

Michal Dvorak said...

"I don't get why Elnor had to stay behind."
It didn't make much sense to me either, but I think maybe it was to buy time for Hugh to hide the teleport room and thus obscure how and where he sent Picard and Soji. Presumably if he hadn't stayed behind, the Romulans would be able to find the room before Hugh could close it and they could follow Picard and Soji immediately with such force that Elnor couldn't protect them. This way it will take the Romulans some time to discover what happened, giving Picard and Soji time to disappear.
Maybe.

BrianN said...

Yeah, Elnor had to stay behind because of plot, but they did a pretty weak job of explaining it away.

sunbunny said...

SANTIAGO CABRERA SHIRTLESS WAS INCREDIBLY VITAL TO THE PLOT OF THE EPISODE. INCREDIBLY, INCREDIBLY VITAL.

I put off watching this one a week. The show was getting a little slow to me. But it really ramped up here.