Time for my (over due) review of the most recent episode of Star Trek: Picard. This is for episode 4, entitled "Watcher."
It is a really fun episode with some very funny moments. I’m still quite enjoying it and look forward to the next episode.
I have been trying to avoid other people’s reviews until after I write mine, even though I link to a bunch once I do start reading them. Because I’ve been doing that I have sometimes missed something that others noticed that I would like to comment on. I’ll be doing that below.
I do want to note before I get into the spoilery stuff that a lot of people whose reviews/recaps/reactions I have been reading have been commenting on how slow the plot seems to be moving in this season. I don’t completely disagree with them, because I really enjoy a lot of the character development stuff that is happening in the episodes. But I also understand that that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
I can’t talk about the episode any further without spoilers so…
If you don’t want to be spoiled for this episode or episode one, turn back now!
Turn back now if you don’t want any spoilers!
If you haven’t seen the episode you should (if you can) go watch it now!
This is your last chance before the spoilers!
Episode three ended with our heroes split up into three locations: Picard and Dr Jurati are in the ship with the Borg Queen, Raffi and Seven are somewhere in L.A. trying to track down both Rios and the Watcher, while Rios managed to get himself arrested by immigration enforcement (and his comms badge is so far as we know still sitting on a desk in the clinic where Rios got his injuries worked on). So we pick up with these three threads.
One of the things we learn answers a question that was being debated since episode three: where, exactly, did La Sirena crash? Because the dialog in episode three indicated that they were headed right at Los Angeles when Picard asked for navigational control and said he was aiming them "home." Many of us assumed he meant he was aiming for Chateau Picard — but that’s in France, on the other side of the globe from L.A. If you already don’t have enough power to come down in a soft landing and you’re falling toward Los Angeles, how could you aim just a little differently and hit France?
So others assumed he had crash landed them somewhere else in the western U.S. and we were all misinterpreting the "home" line.
Turns out that some how Picard did crash them into the vineyards around Chateau Picard, and he chose it because he knew during the early 21st century no one was living there. We find this out because it’s getting cold inside the ship (systems are self-repairing now, but heating apparently isn’t working, yet). Also, Picard thinks Jurati need to rest, whereas she’s convinced if she keeps busy she’ll recall more information she swiped from the Borg Queen’s mind.
Meanwhile, in Rios is in custody at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility where he learns what it feels like to be tasered. He also has another conversation with the doctor from the clinic before the officials have to release her because they’ve confirmed her U.S. citizenship.
One of the things I missed in the last episode was the name of the doctor’s clinic: the Mariposa Clinic. Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly. And in the previous episode Jurati had warned everyone about the dangers of altering the timeline by referring to the butterfly effect. Just as the Ray Bradbury story, "A Sound of Thunder" when a time traveller accidentally killed a butterfly in the distant past it changed the future. While I had noticed a few butterflies inside the clinic, I had just assumed that this was a visual choice to reinforce the notion that such metaphorical butterflies were everywhere. But now I’m worried that Rios’s budding relationship with the doctor is going to become a problem — specifically that they might find themselves in a situation where they have to let her die or the timeline is broken further.
Meanwhile, Seven and Raffi track Rios comm link to the clinic where they meet a nurse who explains the clinic was raided and that the doctor and a patient who matches Rios’ description was taken away. What follows is a series of funny scenes (no, seriously, hilarious!) as Raffi tried to get the cops to tell her where Rios is, while Seven is trying to keep her calm. A friendly bystander explains them the local police wouldn’t have any records of someone taken my ICE. As Raffi figures out how undocumented people are treated in the U.S.A of 2024 she becomes even more determined.
So, despite the warnings earlier from Dr Jurati, and continued efforts from Seven to talk her down, Raffi breaks into a cop car to use the police laptop to hack the feds computer, which puts Seven in the position (as cops come running from the nearby station), of jumping into the drivers seat of joining in on the theft of the car.
The following car chase was very fun. Technically, as car chases go there have been many examples in film and television that were more pulse-poundingly thrilling. It’s just a good chase. But what makes the scene work is that the whole time they are trying to evade the police while Seven figures out how to drive the antique is the continued banter/spat between Raffi and Seven throughout.
Back in France La Sirena has repaired enough that they can attempt to transport Jean Luc to the coordinates Jurati swiped from the Borg Queen’s mind, so they do.
This is another example of Picard making an unwise choice, in my opinion. Jurati has been compromised before she ever mind-linked with the Borg Queen, so I think leaving her alone with the Queen is a terrible idea. I hope I’m wrong.
Jurati and the Borg Queen have a conversation where the Queen continues to be scarily charming and sinister at the same time. Jurati seems to be holding her own, but…
Jean Luc finds himself at Guinan’s bar in L.A. The same bar he will visit in three hundred years/did visit in episode one. Despite the fact that I have enjoyed the Luke Skywalker scenes in The Mandalorian, I am really glad that the decided to cast a younger actress to play this younger Guinan rather than to do a CGI de-aged Whoppi Goldberg.
Jean Luc finds Guinan in a very cynical and bitter mindset. She is preparing to leave Earth entirely, having given up on humanity. This seemed like an odd choice, given that in canon Guinan, though an alien, appears to be an African-American woman, and by 2024 had been living on Earth for more than a century, and has witnessed a lot on human inhumanity to fellow humans, particularly aimed at women and people of color. Why is it only by 2024 that her patience has run out?
Anyway despite many fan theories leading up to this episode and Jean Luc’s initial though when the Borg Queen’s coordinates brought him to Guinan, she insists she is not a Watcher, but she knows who the Watcher is. She talks a bit about them, saying that they are supervisors who are always very cryptic and are set on Earth to protect particular people. This is a direct call back to the Star Trek Original Series episode, "Assignment: Earth" where the Enterprise travels to 1968 Earth and encounter a mysterious guy named Gary Seven. Seven claims to be a human raised on another planet and sent to Earth at this point in its history to protect the human species during a "delicate time." Seven referred to himself and his colleagues who had been killed just before the episode began as Supervisors.
Anyway, once Jean Luc convinces Guinan to help, she offers to take him to the Watcher.
Rios is loaded up on a bus supposedly simply to be deported, but there have been hints in earlier scenes that possibly in 2024 ICE is actually making people "disappear." So maybe his actually being taken somewhere to be killed and thrown into a mass grave.
Raffi finds Rios finally while the car chase continues, and Dr Jurati has gotten communications boosted enough to talk to them. She can beam them from where they are to a location near the bus… but they will have to stop because the transporters aren’t up to grabbing a moving target. This means the bus chase ends with the completely empty stolen cop car stopped in the middle of a street surrounded by a bunch of confused police officers.
Guinan takes Jean Luc to a park, where they are approached by a child who is being mind controlled by the Watcher. The Watcher threatens Guinan and sends her packing, but agrees to meet with Jean Luc. We have an odd and creepy couple of minutes as the Watcher takes on different bystanders as temporary mental puppets to lead Jean Luc to… a woman who looks exactly like Jean Luc’s old friend, ex-Romulan spy Laris. Who promptly teleports herself and Jean Luc away.
In the brief moments we can see of actress Orla Brady as the Watcher, she doesn’t appear to be Romulan. I’m assuming that the character she is playing is not related to Laris at all. We will presumably get an explanation for why she looks like Laris (other than the meta explanation that Brady is a great actress and this gives her something to do while Laris is in a different timeline).
Toward the end of the episode we finally see Q, and he is apparently targeting a woman who is connected with a NASA mission to Europa that we had seen mentions of in the background of earlier episodes. Exactly why he is targeting her we don’t know, but we do see him try to use his powers–and they don’t work, surprising him.
We end the episode with Seven and Raffi standing on the side of a highway, with no vehicle and virtually no equipment. The bus containing Rios and other undocumented people being deported can be seen coming toward them. How are they going to rescue Rios?
I can’t wait to find out what happens next!