Picard has been accused of going too slowly but this episode Jonathan Frakes applies the brakes. We finally got into space last week only for Jean-Luc to take a side trip on his quest to bulk up his dungeon crawling party with a space-elf with a sword. I’m being unfair on an episode that looks at the social consequences of Jean-Luc’s attempt to save Romulan society but where earlier episodes took their time, each one deepened the plot and the underlying mystery. In episode 4 we get a lot of back story on Romulan refugee planets and a whole new side of Romulan society but whatever is going on in the triangle between Romulan myth/secret societies, closet androids and reclaimed Borg barely shifted from last week.
The space elf in question is a young warrior, the only man among a sect of Romulan warrior/assassin nuns. The nuns in question had been integral in helping Jean-Luc evacuate a substantial number of Romulans to a new planet and had taken a stray child orphaned (I assume) in the evacuation of Romulus. We see a lot of Jean-Luc’s promises to help the Romulans and how he has failed them.
The nuns have a doctrine of ‘absolute candor’ — total honesty about their feelings. Jean-Luc describes it as the antithesis of normal Romulan culture and while his comment is clearly correct, the whole notion is also so very-EXTRA as to also be exactly in keeping with Romulan culture in a broader sense. The authoritarian drama queens of the galaxy who have literally flounced out of galactic culture more than once, would absolutely have a sub-culture of excessive honesty.
We meet Elnor as a young boy during Jean-Luc’s past and in the show’s present as young man who is out of place in a what has become a run down and socially unstable Romulan world. Aside from adopting the aesthetics of what would be best called Romulan Legolas, Elnor brings martial arts/wuxia tropes in his wake. How that will work out in Jean-Luc’s rag-tag crew remains to be seen.
The big guest stars are two-fold and announced in the opening credits. Jonathan Frakes directs and that means a solid episode but an unsurprising one. I felt at least one part of the characterisation of Jean-Luc late in the episode where he is overly provocative at a cafe with a ‘Romulans Only’ sign felt out of keeping…but I can’t really claim to know better what Jean-Luc would do in that circumstance than the combined insights of Frakes and Stewart. Yes, he’s the great diplomat but he is also prone to arrogance and Jean-Luc provocation leads to another ‘Picard gets a righteous dressing down’ scene which are becoming a staple of this show.
The second guest star appears only at the end. Jeri Ryan reprises her role as Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager but it is a brief appearance teasing more next week. Given the apparent relevance of former-Borg to the plot, Seven of Nine is an obvious addition to cast of characters but her introduction so far is basically “Hi, I’m in this show as well”. I assume we’ll find out what’s she has been up to later.
An entertaining episode but if I was to do an episode ranking it would be the bottom of my list.
- Santiago Cabera gets to play two more additional holographic emergency systems: a scruffy long haired emergency weapon systems hologram and an emergency hospitality hologram. They really are having fun with the idea of this hotshot pilot stuck on a ship populated by holographic fragments of his personality. So far we haven’t see Chris Rios anywhere but on the ship, so I’m not ruling out the possibility that he is a hologram as well. That would fit with the plot themes and imply that the writers might have a point to make about the AI holograms.
- Of course we shouldn’t forget that Star Trek: Discovery added another AI to Star Trek canon with Control, the Skynet like rogue computer system. However, I don’t think it will be turning up here.
- The ex-Romulan senator did have a point (no pun intended) and I’m glad Jean-Luc made it clear to Elnor that he’d over-stepped.
- The creepy incest-vibes between Narek and his sister continue but there was also some stronger suggestions this week that his feeling for Soji are not wholly fake. We didn’t learn much more on the Borg cube other than that the Roumlans have their own end times/evil one myth and that the myth is connected to synthetic life forms.
- No Orla Brady as Laris this week. We will just have to live in hope of a spin off sitcom about two ex-Romulan spies trying to run a French vineyard and keep Jean-Luc’s dog out of trouble.
- Next week will be episode 5 and the halfway point.