After last week’s tremendous first episode of Star Trek: Picard, can the story continue? What is the mystery that Picard has found his way into and who can help him unravel its pieces? Can he find Dahj’s sister and discover if she is the offspring of Data?
Recap of Picard, S1.E2: “Maps and Legends”
Last week in the interview, we heard the story of the rebellion of the Synthetics 14 years prior and we get to see that betrayal play out in a flashback, as we watch the celebration of First Contact Day through the eyes of a skeleton crew and their synthetic F8.
It ends as he betrays them, kills them, lowers the shields and shoots himself in the head. But it gives a real sense of the betrayal people must have felt and the damage that happened on the Mars Utopia ship yard.
But back at the vineyard, Picard gets a lesson in Romulan history, as his friends and caretakers Zhatan and Laris, refugees from Romulus who feel in love and settled here unpack the Tal Shiar and Zhat Vast. Whereas the Tal Shiar is considered the secret police of the Romulans, there was an even darker secret that the Zhat Vast covered, which turns out to be tied to a deep hatred of all things in the realms of Artificial Intelligence; and the roots of it aren’t known.
That alone may be the secret that the Zhat Vast are keeping. While the story seems to be just legends that are used to scare school children, when a search of the apartment when Dahj’s boyfriend was killed shows evidence of a cover up, they use some image mapping and un-erased data to discover that Dahj does appear to have a sister and that she is living off world.
Thus, we return the Borg cube that we saw at the end of last episode and hear as Soji and the Romulan Narek discuss it. Soji sees it as broken, vulnerable since it has been disconnected from the rest of the Borg whereas the Romulan seem to just be using it for technology and scraps. When Soji pushes to know more about Narek, she runs into a Romulan wall of secrets and half-truths.
Picard, quick to chase this lead, meets with his doctor, as he was seeking to be cleared for interstellar travel. It turns out that he is in remarkable health except for a spot on his parietal lobe. There is some discussion but the doctor owes him and he gets his clearance.
When he arrives at Starfleet headquarters, his welcome is less than warm. He meets with Admiral Kirsten Clancy, asking for a demotion in order to get a ship, so that he can chase after the missing scientist Bruce Maddox, who he suspects is using neurons from the late Data to make new synthetics. The conversation goes sideways quickly, with the revelation of their great disagreement as Picard stood up for the Romulans when Starfleet removed their help and support of them following their planet’s destruction.
Back on the Cube, we see the entry procedure for a morning shift for the Borg Artifact Research Institute, through the eyes of Soji and a new recruit. After some speeches, they gain entrance and we see that Soji’s work is with the former Borg, working as a part of the Borg reclamation project. Later in the episode, we see Borg being taken apart, returned to what they would have been before assimilation; we see both the arm removal and a eye socket removal before Dohj quietly whispers words of freedom over the corpse.
Picard, fresh from his Starfleet rejection, he turns back to Dr. Jurati, who brings to him all the information she has on Dr. Maddox. She has started to piece together the story, as it turns out that Dahj is a recent creation, in terms of all her identity and information was created from scratch 3.5 years ago. Jurati expresses deep sadness for not ever having to meet Dahj but she pushes Picard quietly to wonder where is the twin and what is she after. Later that evening, he sends a note to Raffi, asking her not to hang up and that he needs a ship!
The next morning, Zhatan and Laris try to talk Picard out of his newfound quest but he ultimately knows that this quest is something that he has to do. And he asks Zhatan and Laris to stay over the vineyard. Zhatan says he needs a crew, and when he lists the usual suspects of the Next Generation crew, Picard dismisses it, as he doesn’t want anyone endangering themselves on his account.
At Starfleet, there is a discussion where the Commodore Oh and and Lieutenant Rizzo. It is revealed that the two of them are in on a conspiracy. Rizzo was evidently the one in charge of the team that first failed to capture Dahj and then killed her in the second attempt. Rizzo assures Oh that she has her best man on the case, and that she would stake her life on it. Oh recommends reaching out to him directly and effectively so that they don’t miss the opportunity with the second twin.
Picard then lands in a desert landscape but he is held at gunpoint until he reveals the Romulan plot on Earth and gains access only when it is also revealed that he has brought the bottle from ’86.
But we close with a gamechanger of a scene, as we learn that Rizzo and Narek are siblings and working to gain access and intel on the remaining twin. The tone and setting definitely seems to lean towards it being ominous and contrary to what Picard and his developing crew would be seeking in trying to find Soji.
Review of Picard, S1.E2: “Maps and Legends”
So, while I think this episode works well if you have more knowledge of the Star Trek universe(s), I am again pleasantly surprised that you don’t have to be a Trekkie to follow along and get what you can out of the show. It is well done.
And part of that needs to be expressed in thanks to the showrunners in terms of pacing. This show isn’t rushing, it isn’t dragging its feet but it seems to be moving at just the right amount of speed. Before the show’s premiere, if you had told me that it would likely be 4 episodes before we had a crew and a ship, I would have recoiled and thought about shows that take too long in the set-up. Instead, this show is giving us just enough through conversations and flashbacks to see and understand what is happening but want more.
Quick hits from “Maps and Legends”:
- The opening scene with the Synthetic Rebellion was great. It shows us something that is such a pivotal moment for the show but also the story of Picard. While the Romulan issue clearly spoke to him, there seems to be a deeper piece underneath that is about how much he mourns Data, who, if he had been alive at this time would have been deactivated.
- That spot in Picard’s head ain’t from nothing. I cannot wait to see what happens because at some point, we are going to be reminded, Picard had another name once: Locutus of Borg! It was no accident that we saw that orbital eye socket removal done on the Cube.
- The ragtag outlaws on the edge of space is growing Starfleet is either contaminated with Romulan’s and is now echoing their hatred for all things AI or the two empires are working against the idea of synthetics while Picard and clan see destined to save and redeem it. I like that feel. It has echoes more of Firefly than Star Trek but it seems to work. The empires cannot always be right and someone has to misbehave.