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Star Trek: Picard - Review- Assimilation - Tips on Time Travel

22 Mar 2022

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WARNING: The following review contains spoilers.

Star Trek: Picard 's second and third seasons, which were filmed back-to-back, benefit from the guidance of time-travel storytelling expert Terry Matalas as co-showrunner. Another time-travel story veteran, "Back to the Future" star Lea Thompson takes her place in the director's chair of "Assimilation." In this episode, Picard (Stewart) and company must travel to 2024 to repair the time divergence caused by Q (John de Lancie). Thompson also directed the upcoming fourth episode. "Assimilation," written by Kiley Rossetter and Christopher Monfette, shines with tight direction, big, bold moments, stunning visuals, and strong character development that gives several of the cast a turn in the spotlight.
The crew of the Sienna, now having to rely on the Borg Queen, narrowly escape an attack from Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)'s dystopian world husband and his team. However, their escape comes with the loss of valued crew member El Nor (Evan Evagora) before they can slingshot themselves into the past. They arrive in 2024 before the divergence occurs in Los Angeles where they easily spot the signs of the decline and destruction of the civilization already happening. An away team goes in search of the mysterious watcher in hopes of finding the exact time and location of the disruption so they can prevent it from happening. The remainder of the team remains aboard the ship and undertakes a dangerous mission to revive the depleted Borg Queen (Annie Wersching).
A distraught Raffi (Michelle Hurd) leads the ground team, the earlier tragedy fueling her determination to succeed no matter what. Hurd is exemplary, in some of Raffi's best moments on the series yet, as Raffi fights desperately to save El Nor and grieves when her efforts fail. She particularly shines in a powerful moment where she lashes out at Picard following El Nor's death. Raffi drives herself forward clinging to the belief that repairing the divergence can bring El Nor back. In less turbulent but no less poignant scenes, Raffi and Seven of Nine share some nice moments together, highlighting their strong chemistry, as they help each other navigate a strange, new timeline.
Santiago Cabrera's Rios also gets his most significant screen time of the season so far. After getting separated from the rest of the team, Rios finds himself caught up with Dr. Teresa Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez), who runs a free clinic, and her young son Ricardo (Steve Gutierrez). This storyline offers a quiet but effective commentary on illegal immigration. Cabrera's work with Gutierrez, in particular, is subtle and beautifully directed.
Pill's Jurati is the standout character in this episode, as she finds herself at the center of a harrowing experience. So the ship can return to the future once the divergence is repaired, Jurati determines that she must temporarily assimilate with the Borg Queen to help the alien queen repair herself. Pill more than stands her own with Stewart as Agnes convinces Picard it is a risk worth taking. Her best work, however, comes when Agnes and the Queen are assimilated, Pill masterfully negotiates flipping back and forth between the two characters as they explore each other's minds and emotions. It is a performance very reminiscent of Patrick Stewart's work in the Season 3 Star Trek: Next Generation episode "Sarek" in which Picard mind-melds with Vulcan Ambassador Sarek to help him retain control of his emotions during a critical diplomatic mission.
Jurati's post-assimilation awareness promises this storyline still has dividends to pay. Pill and Wersching execute perfect timing of the back and forth between the two characters. And just when the Borg Queen believes she has the upper hand, Jurati drops a bombshell that she managed to steal vital information from the Borg Queen's mind, including the coordinates for the Watcher's location. Both Picard and the Borg Queen are impressed. Watching future exchanges between the Borg Queen and Agnes now that they have a connection is going to be fun.
Thompson's attention to detail, especially when it comes to accepted time travel rules, and tight direction gives this episode a solid pace, quickly moving the story along without sacrificing characters. The second episode under Thompson's direction holds great promise with the possible revelation of the Watcher's identity and the significant event that causes the time divergence.

What were your thoughts on Star Trek: Picard's "Assimilation"? Leave them in the comments below.