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Star Trek: Picard - Review - Mercy: Back on Track

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Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

Much ofStar Trek: Picard's eighth episode, "Mercy," could have easily been included in last week's messy "Monsters." With just a few strategic edits, the excellent story-moving moments of this week could have prevented last week from grinding the season's momentum to a complete stop.
"Mercy" gave us the much-anticipated confrontation between Kore (Isa Briones) and her "father" Adam Soong (Brent Spiner). With an assist from Q (John de Lancie), Kore learns the truth of her creation. The final confrontation with her father was just as good as expected, featuring compelling work from Briones and Spiner. Kore throwing Soong's hubris back in his face as she left and telling him that maybe he didn't exist without her will be a season standout moment. The question now is what role will the newly emancipated Kore play in the upcoming events of the season's final two episodes?
Seven (Jeri Ryan) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd)'s first face-to-face encounter with the emerging Borg Queen Jurati (Alison Pill) provided the episode with most of its action highlights. However, it's the more nuanced character work that makes this part of the story strong. Pill continues to relish her semi-dual time as Agnes and the Borg Queen. Thankfully also, the producers took advantage of the Ryan/Hurd chemistry to give Seven and Raffi their most decisive character moments all season.
The two actresses are masterful as the pair face uncomfortable truths about their relationship. Seven, enjoying her first tastes of humanity in decades, takes rightful exception to Raffi forgetting that before Seven was a Borg, she was a human being. She calls Raffi out on the latter's emotionally manipulative tactics, a reckoning which strikes a chord. Raffi helps Seven realize that part of her will always be Borg as much as she is experiencing as a human now. Together, they realize that by showing mercy by not killing Raffi when she had the chance, their friend Agnes was still in there, and there was hope for her.
"Mercy" further highlights the agendas of both Q and the Borg Queen. It's not made entirely clear if Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Guinan (Ito Aghayere)'s encounter with the haunted Agent Willis (Jay Karnes) was genuine or just Q's unorthodox way of responding to Guinan's summoning. Two things are known. Q is having a tough time accepting that he is losing his power and is dying. Aghayere is doing such a magnificent job capturing Guinan's essence (she more than holds her own in a tense scene with de Lancie) that a spin-off series of the adventures of a young Guinan would be imminently watchable.
It is only logical that the Borg Queen would seek out Soong to help her complete her assimilation of Agnes. Pairing these two can only spell trouble for Picard and his team in the coming episodes, as Soong and the Queen plot to capture La Sienna and conquer Earth.
The most puzzling part of "Mercy" is the emphasis on the growing relationship between Rios (Santiago Cabrera) and Dr. Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez). There is still no logical explanation for why he would tamper with the timeline by taking them aboard the La Sienna. If the reasoning is that he believes Dr. Ramirez and her son are no one significant, doesn't that reasoning completely upend their inclusion in the show? With a looming threat from the Borg Q, his impulsive decision could be setting up disaster or heartbreak.
After last week's stumble, "Mercy" does an admirable job of getting Star Trek: Picard back on track. The course has been corrected, and the story is again moving towards an exciting resolution. The final two episodes will have to unfurl a tremendous amount of story. Hopefully, the show will keep itself on course and successfully reach its destination.

What are your thoughts on Star Trek: Picard episode 8 "Mercy"? Share them in the comments below.

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