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Star Trek: Picard - Maps & Legends - The End is the Beginning - Absolute Candor- Review: The Journey Not the Destination



*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers.


I called the premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard engaging and that assessment still stands. However, I will admit that I have struggled to put my thoughts about the three subsequent episodes, Maps & Legends (1x02), The End is the Beginning (1x03), and Absolute Candor (1x04) into words. Then it came to me, the understanding about where my hesitancy lay. I’ll preface my remarks by saying I’m not your typical Star Trek fan who expects the show to be just like previous shows. What I did expect was that it would be filled with high energy and rapid-paced action like other Star Trek shows.


While those Star Treks are telling the adventures of a Federation starship, Star Trek: Picard is not that kind of program. This show is about the journey of one man, a retired Admiral moving at a slower pace since leaving Starfleet. While. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) may be older, he has not lost the conviction of his halcyon days. He moves with determined, measured steps, and this story of his journey to find the lost daughter of a fallen friend moves with those same careful, slower movements. Picard is a man on a mission with a singular focus, which results in the pace of the storytelling. Though it can be perceived as too slow at times, it is in perfect harmony with the title character.


There is merit and beauty to the pace of these episodes. The show has time to give us context and background to Picard’s story, as it lays out the groundwork for the adventure ahead and follows Picard as he gathers a crew for his journey. And a slower pace does not mean less action. Quite the contrary. The scene in The End is the Beginning where Picard and his Romulan caretakers Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane) are attacked by a Romulan hit squad at his chateau is a masterful piece of understated action choreography. Even the familiar high energy Star Trek: Next Generation theme gets the slower treatment to great effect later in the episode. For me, the pacing keeps me invested in these characters and this journey. Much like the products from his vineyard, Star Trek: Picard is, to quote a friend, a “sit back and savor it like a glass of fine wine” show.


Additionally, the show is doing an excellent job surrounding Picard by an eclectic group of characters to serve as his crew. Among my favorites are Laris, whom I really wish they could find a way to bring her along on the search for Data’s daughter and Dr. Bruce Maddox. Brady and Stewart have a wonderful easy rhythm together, and Laris has proven to be quite formidable as seen in the way she took out some of the previously mentioned assassins. Perhaps, since they’ve given us a hologram resembling Picard’s study as his quarters on the non-Federation ship that they’re using, she can be programmed into the scenario that way.


Another character catching my attention from the get-go is Cristobal “Chris” Rios (Santiago Cabrera), a thief and former Starfleet officer who is the Captain of the ship Picard is using. I have been a Cabrera fan since my first time seeing him as Darius Tanz in the wonderful and canceled too soon series, Salvation. He and his character have this roguish, likable quality about him, and he looks as if he’s enjoying playing the many different personalities of the Emergency Holograms on the ship. While Rios exhibits a lot of Will Rikerish quality, I see a bit more of the recklessness of Thomas Riker about him. I so love the jockeying between him and Picard. That has been a masterfully incorporated part of recent episodes. Picard deferring to Rios to say, “Engage” as they departed and Rios deferring back to Picard. There’s still some Starfleet officer in him and I want to know about Rios not wanting to lose another “heroic officer.” Another interesting aspect to explore came when Picard purposely stepped around the Captain’s chair when offered a seat on the bridge of the La Serina ship. That action and his continued deference to Rios begs the question why. Was it out of respect for Rios because it was his ship and to sit there would have been presumptuous or arrogant, or did he subconsciously not feel worthy to sit there?


I’ve also been impressed by Isa Briones as one of Data’s Android daughters Soji who is studying the Borg cube known as the Artifact. She has a grit and steel inside her yet exudes a charm and innocence on the surface. Soji is also assisting in the efforts of the Romulans to reclaim some assimilated crew. She seemed shaken when interviewing a revered Romulan recoveree, Ramhda (Rebecca Wisocky), who reacts badly when she sees the girl. Is Soji the Destroyer? There are so many questions regarding this character. I’ve heard theories that perhaps her sister, Dahj (also played by Briones) is not dead. And what about her mother? Is she a flesh and blood person or merely another creation to keep the Android twins in line?


One aspect of Soji’s storyline that I’m not fully invested in is her relationship with the Romulan Narek (Harry Treadway). That relationship progressed far too rapidly for my tastes. It’s clear that despite his mission to get information from Soji he is developing feelings for the girl. Which makes one wonder when the time comes will he protect her or follow orders from his Starfleet security sister Lt. Rizzo (Peyton List). The scenes of the two Romulan operatives border on uncomfortable for me at times.


And how could I not be excited to see two great characters from Picard’s past? The entrance in Absolute Candor by Jeri Ryan’s 7 of 9 was epic and perhaps game-changing. From her first looks at Picard to the familiar tilt of her head, she’s going to prove to be an energizing part of the crew. I've missed seeing this talented actress (I particularly loved her work as Kate Murphy on Body of Proof) and am beyond thrilled she is returning to her Star Trek: Voyager roots. She and Stewart will match well and can't wait to see their scenes together.


It took me a moment to recognize Jonathan Del Marco recreating his Star Trek: Next Generation Borg character of Hugh from I, Borg. This Hugh is now the director of the institute researching the Borg Artifact. He’s been de-assimilated and appears to want to help Soji but hasn’t quite reached the point where he trusts her just yet.


Among the characters that I’m still on the fence about are Raffi (Michelle Hurd), Picard’s first officer during the failed Romulan rescue mission 14 years ago. She’s an angry, bitter former intelligence officer who blames Picard for losing her status at Starfleet. I’m not quite sure what it is about this character that I find somewhat off-putting, perhaps it’s the fact that she calls Picard, JL, which smacks of just a bit too much familiarity to me.


Then there are El Nor (Evan Evagora) and Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pil). We don’t know much about the former as he has just joined the crew. But we do know the young Romulan assassin has pledged his loyalty to Picard who saved him on Vashti and placed him with a group of the most unconventional nuns. There are sure to be some interesting dynamics between him and Picard. As far as Dr. Jurati is concerned, I’ve just not seen enough of her to determine her motivations. I do find it slightly odd that she turned up at the most opportune moment during the attack on Picard’s Chateau and saved the day. She may not be as meek and mild-mannered as she appears to be.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Absolute Candor was directed by Star Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes who is set to appear as Will Riker in a future episode along with his former co-star Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. I am going to be sorely disappointed if Picard doesn’t inquire about his other Enterprise crew such as Beverly, Worf or Geordi upon their reunion. Meanwhile, I am fully in on this mission of the great Jean-Luc Picard and I think with the arrival of 7 of 9 the pace will start to increase. I’m hoping that we start learning the answers to some of the other questions still out there. Who sent the hit squad to the Chateau? What is Picard’s physical ailment, hinted at in Maps & Legends? Why are they only de- assimilating only the Romulans on the Artifact? And most importantly is Dahj dead or is she really the Destroyer and why is everyone so afraid of her?

What were your thoughts on these latest episodes of Star Trek: Picard? How do you feel about Starfleet being portrayed as potentially the villain? Share them in the comments below.

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