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Star Trek: Picard - Two of One and Monsters - Double Review: Roller Coaster Ride


Warning: This double review may contain spoilers.

The latest two episodes of Star Trek: Picard, episode 6, "Two of One," and episode 7, "Monsters," offer one of the widest contrasts between good and bad storytelling. The first, "Two of One," another nicely directed Jonathan Frakes episode, explores the show's characters on a deeper level yet doesn't sacrifice the urgency of the unfolding story. "Monsters" brings that urgency to an almost dead stop.
The cast work in "Two of One" is exceptional. One beautifully subtle scene is between Patrick Stewart (Picard) and Penelope Mitchell as his ancestor Renee Picard. Despite the insistence from Watcher Tallinn (Orla Brady) that he keeps his distance, Picard feels it necessary to step in and help Renee in person when her fears are getting the best of her, which would put everyone's missions in jeopardy. The lovely, quiet talk Picard has with Renee (without revealing his identity) about family and facing fear is some of the strongest work from Stewart thus far this season.
The second standout in this episode is Isa Briones in one of the episode's final scenes. Watching Kore as she breaks into her father's files and struggles to remember the memories is heartbreaking. When the bombshell drops and the character discovers that she's not human, just one of her father's more successful attempts at making a clone/android, Briones shines. It's a significant revelation with just the perfect reaction from Briones, setting up what is sure to be an excellent confrontation scene between her and her father, Adam (Brent Spiner).
Without question, the stars of this episode are once again the dynamic duo that has become Queen Jurati (Allison Pill and Annie Wersching). Watching these two characters battle for the supremacy of Agnes' mind and body has become one of the best reasons to stay tuned in this season. Kudos also to the production team for keeping Wersching's Borg Queen visible by planting her reflection on objects that Agnes stands next to. The Queen takes charge when Agnes needs to create a diversion to help Picard's team. She taps into all of Agnes' fears and inhibitions and has the character cut loose, triggering the endorphins that give her more power. It's a toss-up to decide which was the most effective, watching Jurati grab Rios (Santiago Cabrera) for an enthusiastic kiss or having Agnes steal the spotlight with a killer rendition of the Pat Benatar hit, "Shadows of The Night"! Pill deserves special recognition for using considerable vocal talent to belt the song out.
While "Two of One" nails these characterizations without losing the context and integrity of their mission, "Monsters" veers so far off course from the main storyline that it completely smothers the momentum of the previous episode. The episode not only disregards and postpones the importance of Kore's discovery and its implications but also Kore doesn't even appear in the episode. Also almost completely ignored is Agnes (Allison Pill) locked in a battle for supremacy with the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching).
Why was such a deep dive into Picard's psyche necessary now? Was this really the time we needed to learn that Picard's mother was seriously mentally ill? Revealing Watcher Tallinn as a Romulan didn't require her journey into Picard's mind. As it was, the story was not told well and ended up being a waste of the guest star James Callis (of Battlestar: Galactica fame)'s talents. The episode revisits Picard family history with the revelation of Yvette Picard's (Madeline Wise) illness, yet doesn't include Picard's older brother Robert in the story? If the point of this exercise lies in the "more to the story" aspect, then it should have been revealed immediately. Also, showing Tallinn as a Romulan poses more confusing questions, such as why was there a Romulan as a Watcher on Earth during this time? Wouldn't it have made more sense for her to be a Vulcan?
With the majority of the episode spent in Picard's psyche, that's not to say there were no other problems in the episode. After beaming onto the ship and discovering that the Borg Queen was trying to totally assimilate Jurati and had locked them out of the ship's operating systems, shouldn't Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Seven (Jeri Ryan)'s first actions have been to warn the others? And if the Borg Queen had them locked out, how were they so easily able to beam back down to search for her, much less send Rios the device he needed for Dr. Ramirez (Sol Rodriquez) to help Picard.
Speaking of Rios and the good Doctor, all the butterfly effect and timeline implications he was worrying about while figuring out how to get the Doctor what she needed made his later actions perplexing. If creating a medical device/procedure to help Picard was going to cause a timeline ripple, what kind of damage will be caused by taking the Doctor and her son Ricardo (Steve Gutierrez) onboard the La Siena?
Finally, a quickly recovered Picard (let's not forget he's now an android and heals quickly) turns to his old friend Guinan (Ito Aghayere) for help with Q. It takes until the end of the episode for some movement in the initial storyline. Aghayere continues to impress as young Guinan in a scene where we discover her race is more powerful than the Q in that if they summon a Q, he must come. Both Guinan and Picard are perplexed when Q fails to answer the summons and wonder if something is wrong with him. Immediately, a mysterious stranger at the bar (Jay Karnes) shows up and reveals himself to be an FBI agent conducting a raid. He ultimately arrests Picard and Guinan. Is this another ploy by Q or just a case of the world's worst timing?
Hopefully, the next episode will correct the mistakes made in "Monsters" and get back on track to restore the urgency of the mission that Picard and his crew embarked on. What are your thoughts on Star Trek: Picard episode 6 "Two of One" and episode 7 "Monsters"? Share them in the comments below.