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Star Trek: Picard - Review - Disengage: Moving into Position

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Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

Though filled with impressive action sequences and stellar character moments, Episode 2, "Disengage," of Star Trek: Picard's final season is taking its time to carefully lay out its story before moving forward. Like a finely strategized chess match, the show uses these first episodes to deliberately move all its important pieces/players into position, helping build the anticipation that once this battle between Picard and this year's villain begins, no one will want to look away.

The brief glimpse into his history and style explains why everyone is hunting Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and the man claiming to be her son, Jack. It appears Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) is some intergalactic con artist/arms dealer with a hefty bounty on his head. With an arrogant, self-assured, and risk-taking attitude, one would be led to believe he is a bit selfish. However, his selfless action in the final act shows he has inherited a bit of character from both his parents.
And among the bounty hunters searching for him is Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) and her formidable ship that is capable of throwing Beverly's disabled ship at the Titan. Plummer masterfully follows in her father's footsteps, creating what will surely become an iconic Star Trek villain. Her father, Christopher Plummer, played the notorious Klingon General Chang in Star Trek: IV-The Undiscovered Country. While known for playing dangerous and, at times, out-there characters, Plummer expertly and deftly restrains her performance, making Vadic a memorable and formidable adversary. She shines in this episode, making her bounty hunter character both menacing and cunning.
Another stand-out in this episode is Todd Stashwick as Captain Shaw. Shaw is undoubtedly a by-the-book Captain, who continues to upset some fans with his continued bluntness and rudeness to Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes), and his disdain for his first officer, Commander Hansen, aka 7 of 9 (Jeri Ryan). He may not be the type of captain Star Trek fans are accustomed to, but he can't be dismissed for following Starfleet rules in protecting his ship and crew, even if that means making unpopular decisions and actions.
It's not clear where these three characters will ultimately fit on the chessboard of this third season, but each will have significant roles to play in the upcoming game of this season. However, what is clear is where all the leading players are being placed. In this chess match, one could easily equate Riker and 7 of 9 as the bishops on the board, making the moves they must make to keep things on track. Riker knows only one person on board can make Jean-Luc see what he needs to see to act, so he goes to sickbay to revive Beverly and bring her to the bridge at a crucial moment. 7 of 9, meanwhile, despite being relieved of duty, instinctively heads to the transporter room to stop Jack from leaving the ship after he escapes from the brig. She likely knew that was where he would go because, as a former ranger, she would consider transporting the quickest way to get off the ship.
The warrior pieces in this game, the knights, are Raffi (Michelle Hurd), who disobeys her Starfleet Intelligence handler to search for the rogue arms broker who is selling the stolen dangerous weapons that destroyed a Starfleet recruitment facility in the last episode. Feeling guilty that she didn't put things together fast enough to save lives, Raffi pushes herself further than she may need to go. Having her face her ex and him making her choose between her mission and her son seemed a bit tagged on, as though they wanted to put her character through the wringer, which may make more sense later on. She has to face her greatest demon and take the drug the Ferengi dealer offers her to get the information she needs. These stolen weapons and the weapons Jack Crusher offered as a bribe at the beginning of the episode could be the thread that ties these storylines together. Unfortunately, things do not go well with the broker, and Raffi needs rescue.
Her rescue arrives in the glorious, grand Klingon style of our other knight, Worf. Michael Dorn makes his impressive return with the delicious reveal that Worf has been Raffi's secret Intelligence Division handler. The clues were all there if one goes back and examines the phrasing of all the messages she had received. On a second look, the language has a definite Klingon style.
Of course, technology experts will be needed as the strategizing rooks of this chess game. The Titan's Ensign Sidney LaForge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) could qualify as one of those pieces; however, to outwit the advanced technology of Captain Vadic's ship, she will need some more experienced help. Paging Geordi LaForge (Levar Burton), who is sure to join the game in the next episode or two.
Undoubtedly, the king and queen of this storytelling chessboard are Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher. And seriously, the cliff-hanging twist of revealing Jean-Luc as Jack Crusher's father wasn't really that big of a twist. Worf's reveal as Raffi's handler is a more significant and unexpected twist. As previously stated, it was obvious to almost everyone on the Titan that Picard was his father. Look how often Riker tried to get him to admit it once they were back aboard the Titan. Did Picard not see it, or did he choose not to accept it? But clearly, the King and Queen of this season are Picard and Beverly, as exquisitely illustrated in a stunning, wordless scene between Stewart and McFadden that speaks volumes. The next scenes between these two, who share such powerful chemistry, will be golden.
Star Trek: Picard's third season is wisely moving all the important players into position before moving forward. "Disengage" was an expertly crafted example of a combination of a story in its current timeline while paying great respect to the elements that made ST: NG such an iconic show. In just two episodes, we have had references to most of the great Star Trek: Next Generation favorites in the form of Romulans, Klingons, and Ferengi.

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