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Star Trek Picard: Assimilation

“Hello, Locutus.”

Resistance is not futile.

While ultimately an episode that bridges two parts of the overarching story, a lot happened in this one.

I’m not sure which was the A plot and which was the B plot, but let’s start with Picard and Jurati since it seems the most relevant. I was a bit fuzzy on what was going on, I thought assimilation once started was irreversible, but I guess I was mistaken (or the writers retconned it here to make the story work). But the idea of partially assimilating Jurati to get information from the Borg Queen was both brilliant and mind-bogglingly stupid (which about sums up Jurati).

I actually loved Jurati’s subconscious stream of consciousness, and how she viewed Picard as almost a father figure. I kept waiting during her "sadness room" to bring up what she did to Maddox, but I guess we’re shelving that for best left forgotten. However, she continues to be a great character this season. Alison Pill's comedy timing really shines.


What is even more interesting is her strange new relationship with the Borg Queen. I mean, what is going on between the two? The Queen has been looking at Jurati like she’s almost attracted to her, and she was impressed by the trick Jurati pulled on her. I don’t know how I would feel having the full attention of a galaxy dominating monarch... no, no, it’s freaking terrifying. I swear if the Queen tries to hit on Jurati I might gag a little, even if the idea is utterly fascinating.

So the last time Star Trek traveled back to this time period was Deep Space Nine's two-part Past Tense, where Sisko took on the identity of Gabriel Bell to save history. That was in San Francisco so there isn’t a direct parallel, but wouldn’t it be neat if the Bell Riots were mentioned at some point during our time here in 2024? Of course those events happen in September of that year so we don’t know if the timelines match up that well. But isn’t it delightful that both Picard and Sisko were in California in the same chronological year?

Los Angeles 2024 is clearly not a great place. There are active fires in the hills. The homeless have moved into places where they aren’t typically found today. Although I did like that the security guard didn’t flinch in the slightest at Seven and Raffi posing as an interracial lesbian couple... because they aren’t together? Right? I’m still fuzzy on those details. It does look like both of them do want to be together, but have some huge-sized issues to work through.

Raffi transferring her need to love a child onto Elnor was probably one of those issues. Poor sweet and innocent killing machine Elnor. He didn’t deserve to be gunned down by Nazis; of course, who does? It did clearly give our people the right motivation to use lethal force to take them down, but I wonder what would’ve happened if the Confederation Magistrate had survived. Although that is probably more complicated than the series needs to be right now. We’re already dealing with alternate realities and time travel.

Small quibble – even with today’s level of surveillance, wouldn’t someone have seen the ship crashing? There aren't many places left on Earth where they could avoid detection for any length of time. Of course, anyone finding that ship would irrevocably alter the timeline, and this isn’t Avengers style where the timeline simply creates a new branch of reality. No, this is a causality version of time travel, where events in the past can significantly alter the present, like the Confederation timeline.


We only got one brief moment with Q, and his two lines only raise more questions. “This is the only kind of life you understand.” and “Shall we see what else has been lost in the wake of your fear?” is enough to really peak my interest in what is going on. How does all of this go together? The season started with Soji on a diplomatic mission, and the Stargazer was on a scientific and diplomatic mission as well. We are assuming, given the actions of the new goth-inspired Borg Queen during that confrontation, that she was doing something hostile, but was she?

Follow me for a moment here. This could all be about Seven and Picard acting out of fear. Fear of assimilation, and fear of that new scary Borg Queen. They acted on that fear instead of with the more typical patience and understanding of members of the Federation when dealing with an unknown species with unknown motivations. Of course it is the Borg, who are always depicted as the scorpion, unchanging and unwilling to stop their sting even when it might mean their own demise. So is Q’s point that they acted on those fears? Or is there a deeper meaning that hasn’t been revealed yet?

Bits:

So does Rios have a new love interest? He had some lovely chemistry with Teresa (Sol Rodriguez). Their banter would normally be a way to introduce a new main character, but this is Star Trek, a place where relationships go to die (well, thankfully, except for Riker and Troi... Imzadi forever!).

Speaking Rios, I felt that fall in my bones as he hit the pavement. I hope he doesn’t die, but at this point I’m expecting them all to die. Isn’t time travel fun?

I absolutely loved Raffi taking down that mugger and then stealing the money out of his wallet.

Seven being mistaken for a superhero was just lovely, and maybe things like this will help warm her up. She seems to be different without the implants, as if the removal of the Borg within her has sparked her humanity a bit. Perhaps enough to repair things with Raffi.

Quotes:

Seven: "I finally managed to reroute power from life support to the transporters but at the moment, they're sub-computational."
Rios: "I believe the technical term is 'for shit'."

Jurati: "Computer, dictate the file logged 'Shit I Stole from the Borg Queen'."

Borg Queen: "What you have just done here is more difficult, and vastly more dangerous than you realize."
Jurati: "And what is that?"
Borg Queen: "You've impressed me."

Jurati: "It's only a partial assimilation."
Picard: "Halfway to Hell is still not a recommended destination!"

It’s hard to rate an episode like this, because it was all arc stuff.

3 out of 4 Lost Crew Members

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.

3 comments:

  1. We'll probably get Elnor back through some timey wimey stuff. He's too interesting a character to kill off so abruptly. I hope so.

    Of all the Trek "travel back to our own time" stories we've had, I'm wondering if the TOS episode "City On The Edge Of Forever" might be in this one somewhere. In that story Kirk had to let a woman he fell in love with die because she was going to give birth to the next Hitler/Putin. The tone of this show so far has been more action adventure with a feeling that there will be a positive resolution, so I don't know if they will go that tragic.

    Rios came sooo close to saying a full WTF? which would be a Trek first I think(?). "Shit" has been around since Data exclaimed it when the Enterprise crashed in one of the movies. Could MF be next? ;)

    When this episode ended I went "What?! No! Already?!", a sign of a great episode, so I'll give it four outa four Jurati wisecracks. Thanks again for your review!

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    1. Forgot to mention: your feeling about Seven and Picard's fear is intriguing, so I'll hold on to it. Their fear of the Borg, like everyone's, is existential, but also personal. And certainly a contrast to the careful, and successful diplomacy of just ended Discovery. I'm wondering how Seven will feel going back to the future and her implants.

      We were set up for that feeling by the "Help us, Picard!" message, certainly not the usual Assimilation PSA. Plus the Borg Queen's facial expression is almost mischievously human. Could she be the next Hugh? And who better than Jurati to introduce BQ to being human? Sorry for the verbal diarrhea but this was a really good episode.

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  2. Yes, it was a really good episode and I agree with your points. It would be super intriguing to go Hugh with a Borg Queen, but I don't know if they are going that way. City on the Edge of Forever is still one of my all time favorite Trek episodes, and yes I do feel as though we will get something like that in this season. Perhaps the Doctor or her kid will play into that. I'm sure we'll get Elnor back, but much like an old DS9 novel titled Fallen Heroes, I bet we might lose some or even all of the crew in the attempt.

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