“The End is the Beginning” takes Star Trek: Picard into space at last
I had explicitly planned to write my review of the third episode of Star Trek: Picard before I read any reviews by other people. But the night after the new episode dropped, during a wind storm (after five weeks of record-breaking rain here north of Seattle), several large trees went down about a block from our house. And those enormous evergreen trees took out a bunch of power lines. The upshot was that literally while I was writing the first sentence of what was to be my not-influenced-by-others review, suddenly the lights (and most everything else electronic) went dead here. By the time I had shut down the devices plugged into Uninterruptable Power Supplies in our house, reviewing the latest episode was the last thing on my mind. Our power wasn’t restored for about 16 hours, by which time we were off at a social event with a bunch of friends… so I have once again read a couple of other people’s reviews of the episode before I completed mine.
First, the non-spoilery review: Another good episode. The story continues to grow more interesting. We get a lot of good character development. We see more ways that the intervening years have changed Jean-Luc. There was an exciting fight. We see a new starship. And at the very end of the episode, Jean-Luc and his new motley crew go to warp speed.
Past this point there be plot spoilers. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on.
Seriously, don’t scroll further!
Turn back now!
Okay, if you’re still reading, it’s your own fault!
This episode began with a flashback to a day Picard resigned from star fleet. We see the conversation he had with his executive officer at the time, Raffi, that ends with her being summoned by the CnC where she expects to get fired. I admit, I’m not sure why she would be fired just because Picard threatened to resign if star fleet wouldn’t move forward with the Romulan rescue. Maybe there’s going to be more revealed about that later.
In the present day, Raffi, though she has agreed to hear Picard out while they drink some of his wine We learn that in the 14 years since he resigned, this is the first time he has contacted her at all. Which doesn’t seem much like the old Jean-Luc. On the other hand, we have his admission from the first episode that since leaving star fleet he hadn’t been living, but rather waiting to die—not checking in with friends or former colleagues would be another indicator of how depressed and hopeless he’d been feeling all those years.
Regardless, we learned in the flashback that she suspected a Romulan faction was behind the attack on the shipyards that ended the rescue mission. Picard didn’t believe it at the time, because the mission had been meant to help the Romulans. It appears Raffi has a thing about the Romulans, which is why Picard led with that reveal at the end of the previous episode. They don’t part of terribly friendly terms, but she does admit that she knows a pilot with a ship who would be willing to help him. She doesn’t agree to do much more, but she does wind up researching possible places where the scientist that Picard thinks created Dahj and her sister might be.
Meanwhile, we see that sister working at the Romulan Borg Reclamation Project, and we finally see who the Director of the project is. Now, I’ve been obsessing about this show since it was announced last year. I tracked down videos of interviews that cast gave after the release of the first trailer, not to mention appearances Patrick Stewart and others made at ComiCon and other conventions to promote the show. So I knew that Jonathan Del Arco was on the show. Del Arco appeared in three episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation playing the character of Hugh.
Hugh was a lone Borg drone the Enterprise crew found at a crash site. And during the course of an attempt to load his circuits with a computer virus that would disable the Borg after he was returned to the Collective, they came to see that he still had some of his memories and original personality. That it was possible for a Borg to became an individual again. He wound up returning to his part of the Collective. And in a later pair of episodes we learned that his reclamation of individuality to effect the rest of the Borg in his cube, but rather than liberate them, it nearly killed them all, giving Data’s evil brother an opportunity to recruit them.
Anyway, all we knew was the Del Arco would be playing Hugh, but exactly what his role in the story would be was unclear. I liked his later work in a couple of other TV shows I watched faithfully, and was looking forward to seeing what he would do here. So I’ve been waiting for him to appear.
It is a little bit of a surprise to see that he is the person that the Romulans have put in charge of this project. We also got more confirmation that the Romulans are both harvesting advanced technology from the Borgs that are being liberated. Soji wants to talk to a specific ex-Borg who was, before being assimilated, a Romulan expert of folklore and mythology. Unfortunately this ex-Borg is one of several who has been become sane after being liberated. Hugh gives Soji permission. The Romulan woman seems a sort of standard not-mentally-well character until she recognizes Soji—and we learn that there is some legend about a pair of sisters, one of whom with be the Destroyer of Everything. She tries to kill Soji.
Jean-Luc meets with the pilot that Raffi found. He’s a former star fleet officer himself who seems to have more than a few grudges with star fleet. He apparently runs his ship by himself with the help of an Emergency Medical Hologram and an Emergency Navigation Holograms. Both of which are played by the same actor who is playing the pilot, though each has a different accent. That’s an interesting why to give us a bit more information on the character.
Back on Earth, a Romulan death squad, similar to the one that attacked Jean-Luc and Dahj in the first episode shows up at Picard’s chateau. There is quite an interesting fight, and we learn that Jean-Luc and his two Romulan companions have a frightening number of phaser pistols hidden in spots all over the house. Which indicates this is not the first time they have had to deal with some sort of armed raid. We know that Laris and Zhaban, the two Romulans who live with Jean-Luc, are former Romulan spies of some sort, so maybe that’s why the chateau is equipped like that.
They are assisted in the firefight by the arrival of the scientist that Jean-Luc talked to in the earlier episodes. She just happens to pick arrive shortly after the Romulans, just happens to picked up one of the abandoned Romulan disruptor rifles, and shoots the last standing death squad member. Since the last time we saw her, the Vulcan star fleet officer that we know is actually a spy of some sort, I suspect that we are supposed to think that the timing of Dr. Jurati’s arrival is no accident. I kind of hope that she isn’t working for the Commodore, because that seems just a bit too obvious, but we’ll see.
Anyway, during the interrogation of the one living death squad member, we finally learn that apparently the Romulans with the forehead ridges (a detail that was added in TNG) are from “North” (reminded me of the line from Doctor Who, “Lots of planets have a north!”). The only thing they really learn is that these Romulans think that Dahj and/or her sister were destined to “destroy everything.”
The pilot calls Jean-Luc right about now, saying that his sources say that more trouble is coming for Jean-Luc and he needs to get off Earth now. Jean-Luc and Dr. Jurati beam up to the ship, where we find out that Raffi has joined them, and she thinks she knows where they can find Dr. Maddox. So, Rios lays in the course, looks at Jean-Luc expectantly, and the final word of dialog for the episode is Jean-Luc pointing forward and saying “Engage.”
So we’re off and running.
The first three episode didn’t feel like three distinct stories, if you will, but together they feel a lot like the opening chapter of a novel. The several plot threads we currently have are likely to take the entire season to come to some sort of resolution. I’m really happy to hear that the series has been renewed for a second season (and that they have already starting lining up other actors from Star Trek to appear next year). Because so far, the show is really interesting. And unlike the last two series in the franchise, it isn’t going back into the past and saddling itself with not being able to change things because we all knew that The Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager were in the future.
So, yes, warp speed! Let’s see what happens next!
Some reviews from other people:
My reviews of previous episodes: