Episode 2 of Picard began to unravel a tangled mystery and one that now seems like it will fuel the rest of at least season 1 of the show. Why would the Romulans use the synthetics to sabotage Mars, and thus end their own hope of being helped by Starfleet? And what role does Soji play in that, as a “child” of Data?
Recap of Picard, S1.E3: “The End is the Beginning”
We open with a flashback, as we see Picard departing the Starfleet building in the days following the Mars attack. He had come to plead the case for the Federation to give him and Raffi the dredge, old ships of the fleet to continue the rescue efforts of the Romulans. When push came to shove, Jean-Luc played his one last hand: offering his resignation if they would not do as he asked. Instead, they took it. As he tells this all to Raffi, she gets called in, already assuming that she too is fired.
And the years have been rough on Raffi since, as she has wound up leaving a near hermit life out in the desert. She clearly blames Jean-Luc not just for what happened, but also for how he abandoned her and presumably others. But, Picard dangles the conspiracy theory of the Romulan secret squad at work on Earth, which he knows is her weak point. She doesn’t agree to help, but she does offer him the name of a pilot, Rios, who will be in touch with Picard.
When Picard finally does meet Rios, we discover a dapper gentleman with an amazing Spanish accent…with a giant piece of Titanium stuck in his shoulder. Clearly a recent mission has gone bad. But he and Picard volley back and forth, as they are feeling one another out. Picard seems to like Rios though, noticing the care that has gone into caring for his ship and the philosophy book that Rios is reading, they seem to come to an agreement.
Meanwhile on the reclaimed Borg cube, Soji is getting the chance to delve deeper into her studies. A former Borg supervisor sees her offer a word of kindness in its native tongue to a decommissioned Borg as it was taken apart. From there, she reveals more information that she knows, only later we learn that even she is not sure how she knows what she knows.
And how she leverages the new influence is that she wants to spend time with Ramdha, who we learn was a Romulan expert on myth before she was assimilated. After making some interesting, but empathetic approaches to Ramdha, Soji does manage to get a conversation going, as Ramdha plays with some cards.
But that meeting takes a sudden change. In discussing how the reclaimed Borg may be able to create this own mythological narrative, Soji also reveals that Ramdha was on the last ship encountered by this Cube and she was likely among the last assimilated. But Ramdha then starts to use the cards and her knowledge, asking Soji which sister is she, the one who lives or the one who dies?
The full freak out ends with Ramdha calling her Seb-Cheneg, the Destroyer, as she grabs a weapon from a guard. Soji saves her from suicide but all the of the Romulan former Borg are staring down Soji. Soji then contacts her mom and directly asks about her sister but seems to be put into some kind of sleepy trance, maybe by a trigger word or phrase.
But at Picard’s house, as they were preparing to send him away on his journey, his friends Laris and Zhaban instead have to save his life, as a Romulan group attacks him. When the fight seems to be over, Dr. Jurati walks in shooting one that they had not noticed, and revealing that Starfleet leadership had come and likely that is why they were here. The group is able to interrogate one of them before he does the suicide pact thing and spits the green goo.
The team then assembles on the new ship and after some time feeling each other out and trying to understand one another, Picard, Raffi, Rios, and Dr. Jurati head out and Raffi thinks she knows where they can find Dr. Bruce Maddox, who is the creator of the sisters. So with the order to “Engage” the crew heads to Freecloud, searching for Dr. Bruce Maddox.
Review of Picard, S1.E3: “The End is The Beginning”
One of the things that is starting to stand out to me about this series is that it is starting to feel like, at least in some part, redemptions. Part of what makes it stands out in this particular episode is the relationship with Raffi and Picard. From the opening of this episode, we realize something that stands out: they are failures.
Now, you could argue that being someone who makes a moral stand in the face of everyone telling you that you are wrong is hardly being a failure. But the consequences of those decisions have taken real hold with Picard. Now he is just the owner of a vineyard. Raffi didn’t chose her downfall, which came from standing with Picard; but her fall is even further as we see her descent into addiction.
But we see the hint of redemption in others. Knowing almost nothing about Rios, Picard deduces that he is former Starfleet, as his precision and cleanliness gives him away. Even in Dr. Jurati, we see someone who pledges to earn her way as a part of the crew, looking to make the science that she dedicated her life to studying meaningful again. And, in the search of Data’s daughter, all of them are looking to redeem Data and the other Synthetics themselves.
Quick hits from “The End is the Beginning”:
- It is good to see a new ship at the end as Picard tells them to “Engage!”
- The talk of myth and the creation of myth is very interesting, especially as Soji is pursuing it. As she works to see it as a construct, there is clearly something more mythical at work. I am sure there is much deeper meaning in the Tarot reading like nature that we saw in the “asylum” of the formerly assimilated Romulans.
- What is so terrifying about Soji that it sets all the Romulans on edge? Is it just about her or her synthetic nature? If it was synthetic specific, that certainly explains the death squads after her and, previously, her sister.
- We have now seen several combats and scenes involving Picard and I am grateful that they are showing him as an older man in a fight. He isn’t equipped for this part and he has to have others around him that are. It is a little thing but in a world where I am sure 75 year old Tom Cruise will be battling ninjas and talking about how great his hummus salad is, we are seeing that age changes us, both good and bad.