This week’s episode of Picard proved to be a unique one as the focus wasn’t split between Picard and crew and the Romulan Reclamation Project. Instead, as we near the midpoints of the first season of the series, we dive deep into the crew and what is happening with them.
Recap of Picard, S1.E5: “Stardust City Rag”
This week’s opening flashback features the newest person to get on the ship, 7 of 9, as we see her find a fellow former Borg being mercilessly ripped apart for parts. She hoped to arrive in time to save him but instead realizes that the only merciful thing would be to put him to death with her phaser. But we can see the anger and it comes back around when we see her on the ship in the modern era.
While she had collapsed, we get some exposition as the remaining crew talk some about her, Picard, the Borg, and their history, as some of the only ones to ever be let go from the Borg. When Seven comes back around, they talk about needing to get into Freecloud to save Bruce Maddox, the creator of the twins, who Raffi has tracked to this location.
Freecloud gives us a little bit of a chance to be silly and free (think of it as a Space Las Vegas), and when they discover that Maddox is being sold to the Romulan Secret Service, they want to make a move. So they costume up in some silly and ridiculous costumes and head there, leaving Dr. Jurati to man the transport to beam them up when the time comes.
With Rios acting as the go between, he arranges a meeting with the woman Bjayzi, who, it turns out was also the woman who was harvesting the organs off of Seven’s friend 14 years ago.
In the meantime, Raffi has left the crew and headed for her own adventure, as she has discovered that her estranged son is on Freecloud and having a check-up done on her yet-to-be-born grandchild. She approaches her son carefully, coming to confess her failings and issues, but he cannot seem to overcome the wounds of the past and the way that Raffi holds to some crazy conspiracy theories, even as we as the audience know them to be true. They depart after Raffi gets a chance to meet the son’s spouse.
But in the bar, things take a twist. The crew does get to meet Maddox but Seven flips, nearly killing the seller and they seem to work out a deal where Picard and the crew can go free in exchange for her life. For it to work, they need help from Dr. Jurati, who is having issues that are being diagnosed by the onboard holograph doctor, who interrupts her vision of her past romance with…Maddox himself.
Everyone does ultimately make it back to the ship. Maddox is quickly ushered into the medical bay, but only after revealing the living twin is on the Romulan Borg cube and Seven asks just for two phasers, proclaiming the rest of her vigilante group is coming for her, but leaving Picard a way to contact her as needed. When she leaves it seems like it should be to anywhere but the bar, but, instead, she does use the weapons to exact her revenge, killing the tormentor of her friend after all these years.
And onboard, Picard is given the information that Raffi, having previously declared herself done with their mission, has returned and stowed away on the ship.
But Jurati and Maddox are talking about things and in the midst of the questions about what all has happened, Maddox thanks Abby for her part of the creation of the “perfectly imperfect” sisters, with him being their “father” and someone else as their “mother,” who he says had the ability to trigger their latent abilities to save them when and if needed. But, despite the holographic doctor’s attempt to intervene in psychological break for Jurati, she basically removes life support in an effort to kill him.
Review of Picard, S1.E5: “Stardust City Rag”
This one felt great to dig in a little bit more with the crew and what we have seen as their motivations. By pushing at the edges, we learn of Raffi and her sadness of feeling like a failed mother, of Seven’s unrelenting quest to avenge those that hurt her and those like her. It really is a good episode for building depth. But the twist at the end was incredible.
Up until her pulling the proverbial plug on Maddox and seeming to allow him to die, my assumption had been that this series was ultimately going to come down to the Romulans and their distrust/hatred of all synthetics and Picard’s steadfast refusal to do so, in memory of his friend Data. But her breakdown and declaring that he would understand if he saw the same things “they” showed her makes Dr. Jurati a swing person in the story.
Whatever they have that makes others believe in what they see as the evil of the synthetics has to be pretty powerful; think about that this was a woman that was dedicated to their creation and study before “they” got to her.
Quick hits from “Stardust City Rag:”
- This was another Frakes directed episode and, again, he is an excellent director.
- Bravo for the silliness of the costumes and accents. It is proof that you can have a serious show that isn’t too serious to poke fun at itself.
- The scene where Maddox is making cookies by replicating all the ingredients but not the cookies themselves is good writing. We can all imagine if you’ve had the real deal, a close proximation on something like that just isn’t the same thing. Kudos to the writer’s room on that part, and using it for the big relationship reveal.
- So it is easy to assume that “they” are the Romulans who revealed everything to Dr. Jurati but what if it isn’t them? Who else could it be that seems so deadset against the return of the synthetics?
- I get the feeling that as they approach this Borg Cube, it is going to be hard for Seven of Nine not to show up again.
- With the focus on the crew this week, are we headed for a Cube focused episode next week? I hope not! This episode ended with some momentum heading into episode 6, which is a major potential pivot in an 11 episode season!