Picard tries to start mending all the “Broken Pieces”— the new series takes a Lovecraftian turn
My episode-by-episode reviews of Star Trek: Picard continue with the eighth episode, “Broken Pieces,” in which Raffi, Rios, and Jurati finally meet Soji, while Seven of Nine comes to Elnor’s rescue and is faced with a horrific situation.
This was another bloody episode, with a rather lot of deaths, some depicted less graphically than others. And the deaths were hardly the most disturbing things to happen! I think it was an excellent episode. Since we are nearly to the end of the season, most of all the diverse subplot all start to come together.
I can’t say anything more without major spoilers, which means it’s time for the cut-tag. Past this point there be plot spoilers. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on.
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The caption for the opening flashback doesn’t give any clue to how long ago this is, but it includes Commodore Oh, the Eviler Sister, and also the Romulan folklorist who Soji tried to question in an earlier episode and they all look the same age as they are in the present—so it probably wasn’t very long. Except we know that Romulans and Vulcans have longer lifespans than humans, so who knows? There is an artifact on a distant planet that when you touch it you get visions. Oh’s speech used the phrase “Our foremothers” several times and all the Romulans standing around the artifact are women. I don’t know if this is going to be explained later. We see even less of this vision than the one Jurati saw last time, but this one causes all but two of the women to kill themselves right away.
Back on La Sirena, when Jean-Luc and Soji beam up, Rios nearly faints and clearly recognizes Soji. He’s quite upset but won’t explain why. He lays in a course for the planet Jean-Luc suggests, activates all the Emergency Holograms, then locks himself in his room
We get some fun scenes with Rafi interrogating all the Emergency Holograms separately, then together to try to figure out why Rios has locked himself up. Which certainly gives the actor playing Rios a lot of fun in this episode.
There are several conversations on the ship in pairs and then all-together, and we learn several things. We get a little more information about what Commodore Oh did to Jurati during that mindmild. We learn that Rios had previously met one of Soji’s sisters (and another, older looking person who was also apparently a synthetic)—and the Commodore Oh had ordered Rios’ captain at the time to kill the two synths, which eventually led the captain to commit suicide.
Soji’s hidden knowledge base (which keeps turning up information when she needs it) includes the location of some Borg transwarp corridors, meaning La Sirena may be able to beat the Romulans to her homeworld.
Jean-Luc also has a conversation with the Star Fleet CNC, who appears to take his report seriously and pledges that Star Fleet ships are flying out to meet them.
Back on the Borg cube, we see Eviler Sister at the bedside of her aunt, who is either comatose or in a coma. Eviler Sister’s comments indicate that what destroyed the Borg cube was some kind of psychic feedback from the aunt when she was assimilated. Eviler Sister has agents trying to capture Elnor, and they almost get him, except that Seven of Nine arrives in the nick of time.
Seven, of course, was summoned by one of those Fenris Ranger SOS amulets like the one she left with Jean-Luc in episode 5, except this one had belonged to Hugh. After Elnor tells Seven Hugh’s plan, she figures out where the Borg Queen’s secret chamber is, takes Elnor there, and starts firing up computer systems.
Eviler Sister, having figured out who came to Elnor’s rescue, sets about murdering all the Ex-Borgs as well as all the deactivated Borgs who haven’t been reclaimed, yet. Which prompts Seven to reluctantly reactivate the local collective, essentially making herself the new Queen.
A lot of the Ex-Borgs and apparently all of the inactive Borgs are killed before Seven can get the plan in motion, and there are a couple of chilling moments where we don’t know how far Seven will go. The second rather perfectly summed up with Elnor asks, “Are you going to assimilate me, now?” Seven does manage to disconnect from the temporary collective, active that.
There were lots of good character bits on La Sirena and we have a few more clues about what’s really at stake, but most of the action this episode happened on the Cube.
By the end of the episode, Jean-Luc and his motley crew, a bunch of Romulans, Star Fleet, and I think the Borg cube are heading toward Soji’s homeworld. Presumably we’ll get at least one more space battle before the end of the season.
- Elnor is still quite fun to watch, even though he had a bit less to do this time. His relieved and grieving reaction when he saw Seven reminded us that the character is only 17 years old. Also, it appears the Elnor might be getting adopted by Seven.
- Jurati’s interpretation of the vision as a warning from the long-dead civilization that letting synthetic life reach a particular level actually summons something from elsewhere (which will destroy any civilization it finds) brings a very Lovecraftian vibe to the story. And it kills the theory I had earlier that someone from the near-future of this series had somehow time travelled back to ancient Romulan times and gave them the warning.
- I was a teeny bit annoyed that Rios’s tragic past included meeting another of Soji’s sisters and seeing her get murdered. Mysteries, horror stories, and other tales of intrigue often feature those kinds of unlikely coincidences, so I guess I can give it a pass.
- Jurati actually says that Commodore Oh’s mind meld included a psychic compulsion preventing her from telling them why she had decided to join the mission. So I guess we are supposed to infer that the treatment which removed the veridian trackers from her system also unraveled the compulsion?
- The scenes on the Borg cube this time had a lot of horror overtones, including more echoes of Lovecraftian notions. Once you think about it, the Borg have always been a bit Lovecraftian: assimilation is not unlike going mad and becoming a slave to the powerful, incomprehensible cosmic being in a Lovecraft tale.
- If the rest of the series bears out the theory that Commodore Oh is half-Romulan, half-Vulcan, I’m going to be a bit annoyed. They’ve used that a couple times previously in the franchise and I think it is both lazy writing and problematic thinking. Romulans and Vulcans are the same species, separated by many, many centuries of cultural development and whatever amount of genetic drift happens in that time. So there is no reason that Romulans shouldn’t be able to learn Mind Melding and similar techniques without having to have a Vulcan parent. The problematic point is that it is a narrative manifestation of racial essentialism. Insisting that only a Vulcan that has been tainted with Romulan genes could be turned as a spy against the Federation is no different than someone in the real world insisting that Jewish people are greedy, or that all Arabic people are violent terrorists!
- I am a bit annoyed at how easily Eviler Sister was able to space all the inactive Borg, even that Seven was already interfaced directly with the Cube’s computers, network, et cetera. I don’t think it serves much of a narrative purpose to murder that many of them.
- At the very end of the episode when La Sirena entered the warp corridor, another ship which looked a lot like the small fighter that Narek (aka Hot Romunlan) had been following them in. We definitely saw him lose Jurati’s tracking signal last time, so how did he find them, again? Is, perhaps, Jurati still under psychic compulsion, and her revelation earlier in the episode a ruse?
- I am still very, very annoyed that they killed Hugh last week.
Some reviews from other people:
My reviews of previous episodes: