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Star Trek Picard: Surrender

"The face of a man who can still take a punch. Almost."

A.k.a.: How to squeeze seven minutes of plot into 52 minutes.

That comes off harsher than I intend it to. There's a lot to enjoy in this episode if you're looking for the character beats, and as an hour of television it passes inoffensively. Plus, it ends up mostly earning the 'entire crew from Next Generation sitting around the ready room debating a problem' moment that was really the primary goal of the season. So, I can't bring myself to be too hard on it.

It's hard not to notice, however, that at the end of 52 minutes we don't know much more than we did when we started. They even go so far as to underline it. The episode ends with them re-stating the same questions we've been waiting for answers for for a while now. What's behind the red door? What's the plan for Frontier Day? What's Jack, and why do the changelings want him? Why did they need Picard's original body? And there's a hell of a drinking game to be had by doing a shot every time a character says 'We only have hours until Frontier Day!' over the last couple of episodes. But be cautioned, you might die.

To be fair, they do kind of hint at answers for a couple of these. They're clearly insinuating that Jack is from the Great Link, and at least part Changeling. This doesn't really square with his 'possess other peoples' bodies and read minds' powers, but I'm sure they'll get around to explaining it. They're sort of waving at the Changelings needing Picard's DNA to gain access to Frontier Day shenanigans but, in that Picard is currently on the run from the entire Federation, would he still have access to the aforementioned shenanigans? It's not like he can just turn up at this point.

No, this episode had exactly two tasks. Get the entire crew re-assembled, and definitively deal with Vadic while doing so. It accomplished both of these, but there was so, so much wheel spinning along the way.

To illustrate what I mean, let's acknowledge that Vadic holding the bridge crew hostage is, in every meaningful way, a recreation of the same scene but with Klingons in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Right down to them making one of the other hostages report over the coms which crew member the baddies had just murdered. But in Search for Spock that scene took, what, three minutes? Maybe four? Here it takes up easily ten, cut and interspersed between other locations and plotlines which are simultaneously also not moving forward. Count how many scenes are a re-tread of: Jack: "I must go!" Picard and Beverly: "You must not go." End Scene. There's at least three.

The big difference is that in SFS, the scene climaxed with the murder of a character we... well, if not cared about, at least understood why he was important to characters we did care about. Here it features the murder of Bald Vulcan Woman Whose Name I Haven't Retained. Which doesn't really have the same impact.

Which is why I'm going to have to say something a little controversial. If they wanted that sequence to really matter, they needed to kill off either Shaw or Seven.

I know, I love them both too, but hear me out. We literally just had Seven finally stand up to Shaw and insist that he use her real name: Seven of Nine. The most effective resolution to that is to either have her killed and him honoring her by using it, or him killed while saving her and either giving her a moment of dignity by acknowledging her and using it as he dies, OR having him deliberately refuse to use it, leaving all sorts of interesting character stuff for her to work through.

That would have given the scene stakes and impact. But they didn't go there. And that's a shame. Maybe they just couldn't bear to lose either character. Maybe that means they're already in the spinoff. I'm guessing they just didn't think of it.

Jumping to other things that could have potentially been more impactful, there could have been an interesting exercise in comparison/contrast regarding the struggle to retain control of the Titan and the struggle to regain control of Data's body. (I know, it's not technically his original body, but you get what I'm saying.) They could have counterpointed the two and ended up saying something interesting about the struggle of soul v. body as compared to the struggle of man v. tools. They even kind of hand wave in that direction a couple of times. But ultimately they're just two things sort of happening at the same time.

Part of me wishes that they'd gone all in and made this entire episode take place inside the Data v. Lore internal conflict in the same way that the Buffy episode 'The Weight of the World' was entirely about a struggle inside an internal landscape. Lord knows that Brent Spiner would have been game for it and pulled it off beautifully. Any meaningful deck-clearing (literally) of Vadic could have been handled quite easily with a five minute 'real world' sequence in the beginning, and then a five minute 'real world' sequence at the end in which they get rid of her exactly the same way they do here. And that's assuming that they absolutely had to get rid of her in this episode to clear the decks for whatever is coming next week. That would have left us with 42 beautiful minutes of Brent Spiner giving us all he's worth as multiple versions of himself in existential crisis. I think that would have been great. The only thing that would really have to have been lost to make it happen is... sigh...

One of us needed to go

The whole Riker and Troi conflict this season was a bad decision. I get why they made it. My understanding is that Marina Sirtis, living in London, was significantly less available than everyone else, and so they made lemonade and made that part of the story. My problem is that this huge, emotional rift between them completely contradicts everything we saw and understood about where their relationship was back in season one.

And I don't say that in the spirit of 'but it goes against established continuity,' because in my general opinion, if the story you're telling me is good, then continuity can go stuff itself. I don't care if you're telling me that Wesley Crusher is currently there in his mother's suitcase and has always been made completely out of sentient gummy worms. If it's a good story, I'm on board. Tell me about the gummy worms.

Here, however, it feels like they needed to find a reason why she wasn't there, and created this huge, emotional rift out of nowhere, solely for the sake of creating a dramatic reason for her to not be there and to provide a dramatic scene where they work it out. It's creating a problem out of nowhere so that you can show them fixing the problem, without ever impacting the actual story that the rest of the series has been telling.

Back in one of the less popular periods of the original Doctor Who, whenever a script was under-running they would have the script editor throw in a scene or two of the Doctor and then-companion bitching at each other about something totally unrelated that didn't matter to the plot at all. This felt like that.

And I really don't care for the vague implication the scene gives us that the reason that Riker was OK about Thad back in season one was that Deanna was kind of 'mind-whammy'ing him to feel less bad about it. Given all the times that Deanna Troi's character has historically been used as a 'mind control as a thinly veiled metaphor for sexual assault' plotline, that just feels gross.

That all said, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis remain as charming together as ever, and the scene works, largely due to their chemistry. It's just that the scene is kind of unnecessary and is a symptom of that 'out of nowhere relationship drama' that's so beloved by screenwriters looking to fill some extra time.

Worf's rescue does, of course, remain very, very funny.


-- I really adored that Riker wasn't even remotely bothered by the idea of Deanna possibly having had sex with a changeling that looked like him.

-- I feel like the last two episodes are really going to miss Amanda Plummer. She brought so much to that part. I'll miss the giggling.

-- I can't help but feel like the title is a reference to 'Surrender, Dorothy,' but aimed at Jack.

-- Shaw is mad at Seven for not sacrificing his live to protect the ship. But how can you stay mad at a man that uses expressions like 'Hunky dory'?

-- Amanda Plummer does not get nearly enough accolades for how enthusiastically French she insists on making her pronunciation of 'Picard.'

-- I don't know if this has already been mentioned in these reviews, but I feel like it deserves a mention. Amanda Plummer, a.k.a. Vadic, is the real life daughter of Christopher Plummer, who of course played Klingon General Change in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. My apologies if that had already been noted elsewhere. I met him once and he was the most effortlessly intimidating man I've ever seen.

-- Judgey Foyer is a great name for a band.

-- The whole 'turning a villain away from villainy by showing them the kindness they've never experienced' is a very old trope, but they subverted it just enough here to get away with it.

-- Lovely little shout out to Tasha Yar with the hologram statue, speaking of.

-- Apparently, despite what closed captioning told me back in episode five, that was not Beverly calling out to Jack to come home. Maybe the Great Link using Beverly's voice?

It was nice to see Spot again


Riker: "I’ve missed you, Imzadi."
Troi: "I should’ve taught you another word."

Troi: "I forgot the one thing that all counselors should remember. You can’t skip to the end of healing."

Worf: "Deanna, I have counted the days since I last saw you. Like waves in the ocean, constant and unending. I have thought of your empathic gifts often during my self-evaluation."
Troi: "Well, that’s wonderful!"
Riker: "Inappropriate."

Geordi: "Six years ago, you brought a gift to my anniversary dinner on Rigel."
Picard: "A Chateau Picard bordeaux which you said was too dry because your taste in wine is pedestrian at best."

Vadic: "Fucking solids."

She will be missed

An enjoyable enough episode, but a couple of missed opportunities and way too much wheel spinning to really be a great one.

Two out of four hours left until Frontier Day.

Wait, it's only hours until Frontier Day? How has no one mentioned this??

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, retired firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla. If you'd like to see his raw notes for this and other reviews, you can find them at What Was Mikey Thinking.


  1. Mikey, you hit it on the head. I kept waiting for either Seven or Shaw to die because it made sense, and it didn't happen. I also was a bit sorry that they didn't even mention the possibility that Deanna was a changeling. And that they *still* haven't explained Jack.

    But I did love seeing Spot again, and what Data said about how Spot taught him how to love. My cats Kara and Dax both liked that part a lot.

    1. Did you know that it's only hours until Frontier Day? :) I thought of you immediately when Spot showed up

    2. The time to Frontier Day did shorten pretty quickly. :)

      I always loved that Data had a cat. It said a lot to me that wheb Data decided on a pet, he chose a feline. They're such contrary, individualistic companion animals.

  2. I got one wish from last week. A recombined Data that saved the day. But not Jack. He’s still a mystery.

    I am just a simple fan that enjoyed the episode. It seemed a bit cheesy in places, and I’m not particularly interested in Riker/Troi, but it was entertaining and I’m really glad neither Shaw nor Seven died. Lol.

    The one thing that bothers me is wondering what Vadic meant when Seven stayed on the bridge. Something like, “How fitting you should be here to hear this….” Am I supposed to know why? It sounded ominous, then nothing seemed to come of it.

    Vadic’s end came sooner and more suddenly than I expected. But now with her out of the way, maybe the actual big bad will be revealed.

  3. I wondered that same thing. Isn't there a connection between the Borg and the Dominion going on in the comics right now? I don't follow them , but I thought I saw an article headline somewhere about it. Maybe that's where that's going

  4. I went back and watched Nepenthe, and there's actually nothing in that episode to contradict this one. In Nepenthe, Deanna is obviously still grieving for Thad and she mentions that it's been hard on Kestra. Riker doesn't really address the subject. It's quite reasonable that both the adults are putting on their best faces for the unexpected visit of an old friend. In fact they're seldom together and interact with Picard separately and mostly on "business." Picard certainly doesn't question them closely about their loss. I think a big part of the good feeling we all got from Nepenthe was simply our own love for the characters.

  5. I generally enjoyed this episode, although I can understand where you’re coming from on many of the points in your review Mikey.

    I don’t have an issue with with the Deanna/River plot here. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think a grieving parent would make very out of character decisions to try to help their loved ones in the face of unimaginable loss.

    All of the TNG reunions were lovely, but the conversation between Geordi and Data about their friendship about broke me - just lovely!

    There’s some theories out on the interwebs about what might be troubling Jack, and they are very interesting. Not sure if it’s appropriate to post so I’ll leave it to those that want to find them, but they would certainly make sense in that this season has been more than just a tidier conclusion to the TNG story than the movies gave us. It’s also given us a small extension into the world of all 3 series that ran in the UPN days, which I’ve really appreciated.

    PS- “f*** solids” is going to be my new go to phrase when humanity pisses me off!

  6. I take both of your points about Riker and Troi. It might well just be a me problem.

    And I meant to say but forgot- it is a screaming, heart breaking shame that Rene Auberjenous isn't here for this. So much of it is built on his work.

    1. Never a problem to have a different view of an episode Mikey! It’s part of the reason I enjoy this site so much, all viewpoints are respected!


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