Friday, February 14, 2020

Thoughts on Star Trek Picard S1E3 "The End Is The Beginning"

Yes, spoilers.

This episode too started with a bit more backstory and I actually quite like that story structure which allows you to learn a bit more about the reasons for why and how Picard is where he is at the current moment in time.

For instance we learn that the angry woman he meets at the end of the previous episode is called Raffi and used to know Picard quite intimately. I don't mean non-platonically but in the way that she calls him "J.L". And I don't know why but it makes my skin creep every time I hear it. Like Picard would never allow anyone to call him J.L. It just rings so wrong. It might not even be that I can't picture Picard enjoying being called J.L, I mean overall he is actually pretty easy going. But the character Raffi doesn't really sell in that she would call him J.L. I think I am getting way more hung up on this than I need to be, but I'm not the only one.

Too cringe.

Raffi knows about the Tal Shiars undertakings on Earth and says she even has proof. At first it isn't entirely clear why she was so angry with Picard. But as the backstory unfolds we learn that Picard lost his job when he put up an ultimatum against Starfleet in the hope that they would still go through with the rescue plan regarding the Romulans. The ultimatum was that he would resign if they didn't and it ends up with him having to resign. Apparently it also means Raffi, as his co-worker/subordinate also has to resign. And because she had been backing his unpopular plan all along she is thrown into disfavour and basically has to live in a hovel in disgrace.

She's not angry at Picard for that happening though, at least that's not the main reason. The main reason is that when Picard resigned/was fired he retreated to his chateau and just left her behind. Apparently he didn't bother calling up on her even once in all the years that have passed (10? 20? Something along those lines). Now that is just a very d*ck thing to do. Even I would be pissed with Picard after all that. But what an uncharacteristic thing for Picard to do though. I'm not really buying it and we don't get any reason for it either. Picard simply says he is sorry which means we'll have to accept Raffi's account as the truth. Come on Picard, that's just mean.

He asks her for help to find a pilot and a ship. She's not keen about it and asks him to leave.
Over to our other synthetic, Soji gets to talk to an ex-borg in command named Hugh, who tells her she is going to be allowed to talk to another ex-borg named Ramdha, who is very special apparently. They give an explanation for why a bit later into the episode but the explanation makes no sense to me, I'll get to that later though.

Remember this guy?

The ex-borg commander Hugh is the same character (and is played by the same actor) who played a borg in an episode of TNG and I think it's a great idea to tie him into this story this way. It's the kind of fan service nod that requires a bit more thinking than just having someone cameo in the background (or playing the TNG tune in the background as they do in this episode twice) and I am happy for it. Hugh also tells us that ex-borgs are in fact referred to as "XBs", and what is it with shitty acronyms in this episode?

Soji is lead into a room full of Borgs that have been liberated but aren't working very well. We get to know that all (or most?) of these borgs are Romulan. She tries to speak with this Ramdha person who is sitting at a table doing some sort of Romulan looking tarot cards. At first Ramdha isn't very forthcoming but Soji knows a lot about Romulan mythology and mysticism and manages to get Ramdha to talk to her.

Meanwhile Raffi has pulled through and introduces Picard to a pilot named Rios. Rios seems to have his own fair share of issues, and he also has an EMH which looks exactly like him but speaks with a completely different accent. It's actually a pretty funny juxtaposition and I think it works in this episode.

As Picard is getting ready at the chateau him and his Romulan friends get attacked by our mystery enemy. Laris and Zhaban as the Romulans are called manage to kill off the attackers and even get a prisoner. They interrogate him, humanely, and he reveals that Soji might not  be who they think she is. I mean, she is probably a synthetic, but for some reason they all think that she is really dangerous. As the prisoner reveals this information they're also cutting to Soji's talk with Ramdha, who reveals the same information in her own way. "Which sister are you?!" she screams and pulls a gun from a nearby guard. They both (Ramdha and prisoner) end up calling Soji "the destroyer" or Seb-Cheneb in Romulan (there is your next D&D character name). I mean that can't be a good thing right?

Janeway is chaotic evil?!

It's a good thing story wise though as it thickens up the plot and makes it even more interesting.

And also, Alison Pills synthetics expert who may be called Agnes (man my notes are shit some times) gets a visit from the (now confirmed) Vulcan commodore (who is definitely named Oh) who wants to know everything she has been saying to Picard. Agnes goes to visit Picard after this and actually walks right into their gun fight with the presumably Tal Shiar or Zat Vash force. It's actually a pretty funny scene where she guns one of the enemy down and flustered she says "maybe it was on stun?", Laris responds with a "Romulan weapons don't have a stun setting".

Agnes tells Picard about the visit from Commodore Oh and that she told her everything because she is a bad liar anyway. Picard says it's ok. Agnes says she needs to come with him because she would never forgive herself if she didn't see a real synthetic which has been her life dream since forever. They decide to go seek out Bruce Maddox in a place called Freecloud. I'm not sure in what way the Agnes character will turn out to be interesting to this story, because so far she has only been used as an exposition-deliverer. She as a character is completely blank to me. If everything she said had been delivered through text on a screen instead it wouldn't have made any difference (except the funny shooting scene I just mentioned).

Turns out Raffi has business in Freecloud too, what a coincidence considering the massive vastness of space and all, though we don't get to know what kind of business and probably never will. It's really just a reason to get her on the space ship with Picard though she makes it very clear that she actually doesn't want anything to do with his little rescue mission. Picard looks at the main screen and says the magic words - "engage". Yeah, that actually felt pretty good.

I have this sneaking suspicion that Bruce Maddox is actually Data somehow? Just a thought, but we'll see. Can I anagram Bruce Maddox into Data in some way....


Pretty decent episode, I like the way this one didn't throw blatant exposition into the dialogue like the first two episodes (though I forgive them for it) but the story telling has become a lot more "wait and see and hopefully you'll understand". It's just more fun when at first you wonder where they are going with something and then it clicks.

This series still has me interested (delayed review post or not) and not even Raffi's constant "J.L" can ruin my fun.

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