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Star Trek Picard Finds the “Watcher”

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!

Star Trek Picard Tries to Avoid “Assimilation”

So far each episode of the second season of Star Trek: Picard have been very different in tone. I think it’s a good thing. These three episodes, at least, feel my episodic and less muddy that the story arc sometimes got last year.

I enjoyed this episode a lot. We have some action. We have drama. We have the juxtaposition of our futuristic character with what is essentially our modern day world. I think the series is still working. It is still keeping me on the edge of my seat wondering what is going to happen next.

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!

The third episode picks up almost nearly at where the second ended. We actual re-watch about the last two minutes of the previous episode, except there are a few changes.

The magistrate who is Seven’s husband in this timeline shoots Elnor and then won’t let Raffi give him medical aid. There is a very short bit of monologuing about how he’s going to enjoy killing these traitors… which gives Seven, Chris and Raffi a chance to leap on the three bad guys, wrestle their phasers from them, and disintegrate them.

Dr Jurati finishes connected the Borg queen to Chris’ ship, then they race toward the sun to do the slingshot maneuver to travel in time. Except the pesky fascist fleet sends three starships to try to blast them from the sky. Once the Borg Queen takes over weapons control she destroys the three pursuing ships rather easily.

Q makes a brief appearance to taunt Jean Luc just before they plung into the time warp. When they regain consciousness most of ship’s power has been diverted to keeping the Borg Queen alive, as the stress of the time warp and controlling the ship’s passage through it nearly killed her.

One of the problems this causes is that the one piece of sickbay equipment that was keeping Elnor alive is no longer working. they also don’t have enough power to do a nice soft landing, so they get a big crash landing.

Elnor dies. Raffi is both grieving and pissed, as she blames Picard for the death. (Both because he would like Rios disintegrate the Borg Queen to free up ship’s power to Sick Bay, and also because Picard and keeps getting involved in Q’s games.)

They are able to determine that they have landed in the correct year (2024). Raffi throws herself into the task of finding the Watcher that the Borg Queen said was living in 2024 and could help them. She hoping that if they can fix the timeline that Elnor might be brought back in the process.

So Raffi, Seven, and Chris head into Los Angeles hoping that by scanning for futuristic tech they will find the Watcher. Picard and Jurati stay at the ship to try to awaken the Borg Queen and repair the ship.

Seven and Raffi have some encounters with contemporaries, manage to get to the top of the tallest building in LA and scan. Rios winds up concussed and otherwise wounded and is taken to the clinic the mostly serves undocumented people.

Jurati comes up with a scheme to mentally link with the Borg Queen, let the Queen begin the assimilation process, and use that to repair the queen. It’s a very tense scene as Picard is trying to monitor how Jurati is doing and it appears for a moment that he might not have disconnected Jurati in time.

Picard wants to keep the Queen alive because she can pinpoint the event that changes history. And she’s the only mind they have that is capable of steering the ship through another time warp to get them back to when they belong.

The Queen tries to blackmail Picard into giving her the ship outright in exhange for the location of the Watcher. But then Jurati reveals that not only did she repair the queen while they were linked, but she also stole some information, such as the coordinates of the Watcher, from the Queen’s mind.

I really like this actress who is playing the Borg Queen. She’s playing her as charmingly sinister which is just pitch perfect.

Meanwhile, as Raffi and Seven have a bit of an adventure trying to scan for the Watcher, Rios winds up bounding with both the doctor who runs the clinic (there is more than a bit of romantic spark between them), and the son of said doctor. Unfortunately, he also gets arrest in the Immigration raid on the clinic, and his communication badge is left behind in the clinic. This probably adds up to at least three things that might further muck of the timeline. We’ll have to wait and see.

Raffi and Seven was using their scanner to try to track Rios by his communicator, so I’m assuming a major part of next week’s episode will be them trying to get Rios out of jail. But they still need to find the Watcher and they need to figure out what Q did to break the timeline and determine what it is the Q claims Jean Luc need to do penance for.

Sounds like we have a rollicking ride ahead of us!

Edited to Add You may find these reviews useful:

Den of Geek – Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 3 Review – Assimilation

Gizmodo – Star Trek: Picard Heads Into the Past, Literally and Metaphorically

Tor.Com – “Now is the only moment” — Star Trek: Picard’s “Assimilation”

Cora Buhlert – Star Trek Picard Undergoes “Assimilation”

Jean Luc Does Penance as Star Trek Picard Explores a Road Not Traveled

Oh my goodness, is season two of Star Trek: Picard continuing to be an absolute blast! We had funny character moments, drama, a had phaser gun fight, last minute rescues, and more than one Hobson’s Choice. We also got to see just how very stunning Jeri Ryan can be in a nicely tailored uniform. Did I mention hand-to-hand combat? We had that, too!

I continue to enjoy the series and am vibrating on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.

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!

The second episode picks up almost exactly where the first ended. Jean Luc is at his vineyard, but in an alternate timeline. His uniform is different. Romulan slaves work to keep the place running. His library is full of grisly trophies of milatary victories (a number of alien skulls mounted with little plaques explaining who they were). Worst of all–in this timeline, Jean Luc doesn’t drink Earl Grey tea, hot; he drinks fresh ground Columbian coffee black!

And Q is there, speaking in riddles as always, claiming that he hasn’t done anything. He claims this is a future that humans have wrought, he’s just showing Picard the end result.

Picard doesn’t believe him, of course–this is one of Q’s tests, surely. Q says no, it is a penance. And then Q conveniently vanishes.

After being informed that a shuttle is coming from the capitol to pick him up, Jean Luc tries to give himself a history lesson with his home computer system. The viewer is treated to an excerpt of a speech by this world’s Jean Luc–General Picard–speaking in very fascist terms about making the galaxy safe for humans.

The narrative jumps around to some of the other characters. Seven wakes up in a bedroom she doesn’t recognize and freaks out when she finds she has no borg implants. She puts herself through some cognitive tests (it’s a bit heart-wrenching) until someone enters the room. Turns out that in this world Seven (who is going by her human name) is the President of the Fascist Confederacy, and his married to someone called Magistrate One.

Elnor is a Romulan rebel in Okinawa, and almost gets killed before he is rescued by Raffi, who is some kind of high-ranking security officer in the Confederacy. Rios is a Colonel in the Confederacy fleet currently in command of some kind of military assault on Vulcan.

Each of the main cast we catch up to at have all their memories from what we think of as the main Trek Timeline and don’t remember their lives here, so they’re all trying to fit in while trying to find anyone else who remembers the other timeline.

Dr. Jurati works in the capital in an unspecified science job. On this particular day she is supposed to be preparing a captured Borg Queen–supposedly the last Borg still alive in this timeline–to be killed by General Picard’s hand in front of a huge crowd.

Seven uses her presidential secure channel to contact Rios and get him to come get her while she tries to find any of the others.

Picard, Seven, Raffi, Elinor all meet up in the capital and windup in Jurati’s lab, where they have a conversation with the Borg queen. Because all Borg queens have a sort of trans-temporal sense and she still has her computer implants, the queen is able to determine that Q broke the timeline by doing something in the city of Los Angeles in 2024.

So now our heroes just have to get to 2024. The Confederacy doesn’t have time travel technology, so the only option is to do the slingshot around the sun and turning on the warp engines and just the right point, as Enterprise did more than once. Since they don’t have Spock, they have to make an alliance with the Borg queen, who has the computing capacity to calculate their jump to get them to the correct year.

But there’s the pesky ceremony, Seven’s ever-more-suspicious husband, and the paranoid Confederacy security measures to get through before they can go.

There’s a bit of derring do and some technological trickery and even a gun fight on the stage of the big rally, but our heroes and their evil ally manage to beam up to Rios’s ship (which conveniently seems to be a duplicate of La Sirena).

Unfortunately, before they can get away, something else goes awry.

There are a few things one can nitpick about this episode. It is awfully convenient that most of the main cast find themselves in positions of authority in this alternate timeline, for one. But those nitpicks are things that keep the plot moving, rather than trip it up. And since we don’t know yet exactly what Q’s actual game is, it’s possible that he arranged things so they could learn what they need to know and go do something about it.

On the other hand, particularly after we’d already seen a clip of one of Alternate Picard’s fascist speeches, I’m not sure we needed to see as much of the eradication ceremony as we did. Cora Buhlert points out in her review that it reminded her, in unpleasant ways, of studying the history of the Nazi era when she was at university. And I don’t disagree.

I should mention somewhere in here that Picard believes that Q is unwell. Not in the sense that he isn’t rational (he never has been), but that something has happened to him. But we don’t know yet is Picard is right.

When I was working on the first draft of this review, I was telling my husband about the show apparently heading back to 2024 and it seems a little odd that it is just two years into our future. But we also both agreed that some of the best Star Trek episodes have been when they traveled back to our time (My faves are Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Tomorrow Is Yesterday… there are others that are also good).

I figured the main reason to do these sorts of adventures is that they are cheaper to film. And cast, writers, and crew have a lot of fun with the juxtaposition of our mundane world with the heroes from the future. My husband opined that the reasons episodes like those work so well is because they don’t have to fake anything about the world our heroes visit. The writers and set designers aren’t tying to make up a future, they know what 1960s America or 1980s America looked like. They could literally put the actors in costumes on a regular street and film with real pedestrians cluelessly walking through the scenes.

Over at Gizmodo James Whitbrook opines that 2024 has been chosen because a two-part Deep Space Nine episode, Past Tense involved the cast of that series landing in San Francisco in the year 2024 and disrupting the timeline and then having to fix it. And it is certainly possible.

Whether that is the case, I’m dying to know what happens next. The series is keeping me entertained!

Some reviews by others you might find useful:

Cora Buhlert: Star Trek Picard does “Penance”

Den of Geek – Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 2 Review – Penance

Space.com – ‘Star Trek: Picard’ season 2 episode 2 continues to enthrall with dark timeline

Gizmodo – Picard Is Just Diving Right Into Some Classic Star Trek Good and Evil

Camestros Felapton: Picard Season 2: Episodes 1 & 2

Picard Gazes into the Stars… and the Past and…

I just finished watching the first episode of season 2 of Star Trek: Picard and then the after show. I’m very intrigued.

The first episode of season 2 is called "The Star Gazer." And the title turns out to have multiple meanings.

Before I get into any spoilers I will say that the episode surprised me. The trailers had led me to expect a very different beginning. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The pacing felt much more like an episode of one of the older Star Trek series than many of the episodes of season one. A mystery was introduced, the situation escalated, building to an unexpected climax. Which led to a bigger mystery.

I liked it. Full disclosure: I also really liked last season. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but most of the preview articles and fan casts that I’ve seen talking about the new series are critical of season one about completely different things than what I was unhappy with. So not sure what that says about me or the show.

I enjoyed it and am looking forward to next weeks’ episode.

Now, I want to talk some specifics, which means Spoilers!

Turn back now if you don’t want any spoilers!

If you haven’t seen the episode, if you can go watch it now!


This is your last chance before the spoilers!

The episode starts off with a bang. We’re on a federation ship clearly under attack and crew members are racing up the corridors. While the regular red alert alarm is sounding, the computer voice is saying "Intruder alert!" when it isn’t telling us which ship’s system just failed. The camera follows three crew members to the bridge where there is already a fire fight going on. People seem to be dying left and right. We finally see a couple of characters we know from season one: Picard, Dr Jurati, and Seven of Nine. The situation is very dire. Picard calls for the auto destruct sequence (which is confusing because neither Picard, Jurati, or Seven were dressed it anything that appeared to be a Star Fleet uniform)…

…and we fade to black…

Which fades to a view of planet Earth that zooms in on France and we are informed that this is 48 hours earlier.

I don’t intend to recap the entire episode as I often did last season, but I wanted to get all this in at this point so I could say that I almost always hate this kind of opening. It’s great to throw us into the pot already boiling at the beginning of the story, but I hate the reveal it’s a flash forward and we’re going to now watch how they get in that situation.

And I was really afraid that we would somehow have to wait until the last episode to find out how our heroes got into that predicament. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. We see the opening in context (with a some bits that were skipped over in the opening) before the episode ends.

Season one ended with our heroes flying into the cosmos aboard Rios’s ship La Sirena, but in season two we find it’s been about 2 years later and everyone is scattered. Picard is the new Chancellor of Star Fleet Academy, Rios and Raffi have both been re-instated in Star Fleet, Seven is back with the Fenris Rangers, and so on.

Thanks to transporter technology Picard can commute from the family vineyard in France to Star Fleet Academy in California. So we see Picard on the day grapes are being harvested and we get a couple of really touching scenes with Laris, the former Romulan spy who has been working for and looking after Picard for some years.

I haven’t decided if I like the direction the writers took with Laris, but I’m glad to see her.

It was also nice to watch Picard going to Guinan for advice. Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Stewart have a warm chemistry that makes any scene enjoyable.

The showrunners went to all this trouble to scatter the characters to the four corners of the universe, but the plot rather far-fetchedly gets a whole bunch of them to the big strange anomaly in space awfully quickly. In the second version of the opening scene we are now aware that the ship where this is happening is Rios’ ship, and Picard was sent out to the ship by Star Fleet for reasons that should have made someone realize it was a trap.

But we got a lot of phaser fire and some ‘splosions in space, and it’s hard to go wrong with that.

By the end of the episode we know that the two main antagonists of the season are going to be a new Borg Queen and Q. But we don’t know what either of them have planned (well, except we all know that the Borg are out to assimilate everyone, but you know what I mean).

It ended with a very intriguing mystery.

I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Some reviews by others you might find useful:

Den of Geek – Star Trek: Picard returns to our screens doing the things it does best—and brings back two franchise favorites in the process

Cora Buhlert – Star Trek Picard Meets “The Star Gazer”