Spoilers ahead for “Star Trek: Picard” season 2, episode 6
With the Star Trek: Mission Chicago event set to give fans access to the cast and an infinite amount of new merchandize to spend their hard-earned credits on this weekend, there’s no denying “Star Trek” seems to have hit peak popularity. Regardless of how you feel about the last season of “Discovery” or the current season of “Picard” there’s no escaping the might of the Paramount Plus (opens in new tab) Marketing Machine.
“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” begins in less than one month (on May 5) and you can already pre-order (opens in new tab) the new uniform boots from the new show, which will add $399 to the cost of your cosplay. And if you still have money you want to throw away, you could buy some “Star Trek” non-fungible tokens or NFTs. According to The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), it only took five minutes for the premiere collection of Star Trek NFTs — a total of 5,000 starships from the “Admiral Pack” — to sell out Saturday morning, at the price of $250. Each.
Okay, now on to “Picard,” its plans for season 3 and the latest season 2 episode “Two of One.” (f you need a refresher on season 1, check out our Star Trek: Picard streaming guide.)
You might have seen the announcement that the entire bridge crew from “The Next Generation” will be returning for the third season of “Picard.” This almost certainly cause differences in opinion amongst fans, with many — quite understandably — being concerned that nostalgia will be the driving force behind the third and final season, rather than the quality of writing.
Season two executive producer and co-showrunner Terry Matalas will be the sole showrunner for the third and final season of Picard and he confirmed on Twitter that, “For those who are asking: no, these aren’t just cameos. This is a proper send off to the TNG crew. It’s been a labor of love for so long. I hope you like what we’ve cooked up. And yes, Federation starships galore.”
So this isn’t going to be just a recreation of that epic final scene in “The Next Generation” two-part series finale “All Good Things.” No, cameos and potentially multi-episodic roles. It would be a shame if the storylines of Seven of Nine, Raffi Musiker, Agnes Jurati and Cristóbal Rios suffer to make way for Beverly Crusher, Worf, Geordi La Forge, Will Riker and Deanna Troi — although of course the last two of those also appeared last season. And Brent Spiner will probably portray yet another member of the Soong dynasty.
The most recent episode of “Picard” entitled “Two of One” marks the passing of the halfway point in the second season with just four episodes left. This latest installment will also almost certainly polarize fans and it feels like an attempt to please everyone, rather than purely picking a style and sticking to it. If the writer’s chose Route A and stuck to it, then OK. If they chose Route B, that’s OK too. But crisscrossing as much as this show does (“Discovery” also suffers from affliction) just makes it feel uneven and inconsistent. And for the love of Yarnek, please give Michelle Hurd (Raffi) something more dynamic to work with.
This episode also marks the shortest episode of any live action “Star Trek” series, with the exception of the short-lived “Short Treks.” Directed once again by Jonathan Frakes, it takes place exclusively at the astronaut gala and by way of flashback, the story tells of how Jean-Luc Picard ends up severely injured after, it turns out, he’s hit by car.
Not long ago executive producer Akiva Goldsman told Space.com in response to a question regarding what was happening with the Picard-is-now-a-synthetic storyline, “We were pretty clear about saying … you know there’s nothing enhanced here, that fundamentally you are who you were, it’s just that you won’t die from this particular genetic misfortune that you carry with you,” he said.
“And we really do play it that way, there are no super-secret neato cool things that happened to Picard, and what Picard is capable of doing that are in anyway tied to his new body. We’re not pressing forward with this idea of this sort of hybridization of Picard as synthetic.”
And yet, despite some entertaining allusions to his condition by Rios a couple of weeks ago in episode 4, the showrunners have dived headfirst into a story that revolves around a medical crisis involving Jean-Luc Picard; that now requires shining an anti-aircraft-sized searchlight on this issue.
Of course this won’t bother everyone, but this is precisely the sort of thing that makes supreme science fiction writing stand head and shoulders above made-for-merch sci-fi writing.
Credit where credit is due, the concept is quite clever, or at the very least, ambitious. This is a dialogue intensive, pump-the-breaks-a-bit, self-contained installment, so to speak. Not a great deal actually happens, but it still mostly retains your attention. It might have worked better if it didn’t fall back to some clichéd character writing, and in particular, young vodka-downing astronaut Renée Picard (Penelope Mitchell). Had the superfluous dialogue and unconvincing need to hang around and wait for Alison Pill’s moment in the spotlight been shortened, this entire episode-length set piece could’ve been just as effective within a longer episode. It’s been stretched out almost as long as it possibly could be and been turned into an entire episode unto itself, albeit not a particularly long one.
During the gala, Tallinn (Orla Brady) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) must wait for the right moment to attempt to persuade Renée to remain on the prime crew for the Expedition Europa mission. Given the urgency of their mission, surely some compromise can be made on exactly when the right moment is and subtlety must give way to…er, saving mankind.
Jurati has gone full Tyler Durden and is even having conversations with herself around the event. Her alter ego isn’t a guerilla soap manufacturer though, it’s the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching). Agnes performs a rendition of “Shadows of the Night” released by Pat Benatar in 1982. (Did you know a young Bill Paxton appeared in the music video?) Thus continuing a long-held “Trek” tradition that folk from far in the future know the lyrics to tracks released hundreds of years prior. This buys enough time to distract official proceedings and Picard picks his moment to deliver a mostly well-written pep-talk.
And then Picard literally bumps into Dr. Adam Soong, in what is probably the highlight of the episode. Soong recognizes the description given to him by Q and warns Picard to back off from the youthful Renée. Meanwhile, back at Chez Soong, Kore (Isa Briones) has discovered just how off-the-chart, utterly insane her father is. So far Briones is basically playing the exact same role as she did last season. Perhaps that’s intentional, but it feels like a waste.
After his seemingly successful pep-talk, both Picards gently saunter back to the gala at which point Soong tries to hit Renée with is car. Naturally Jean-Luc pushes her out of the way and gets hit himself. And now we find ourselves at the point where we came in. The gang come together, — all except for Jurati — and take him to the nice lady doctor Rios (Santiago Cabrera) has the hots for.
While still unconscious, they manage to stabilize him, but while technically he should be in a coma, his neural activity is off the charts when Tallinn (Orla Brady) suggests that maybe she can pull him out, “Using my neuro-optic interceptor. The same synaptic pathways I hijack to look outwards, could be travelled in. To the subconscious. A kind of jury-rigged mind meld. Once I gain access to his mind, I can hack into whatever memory or thought he’s fixated on,” she explains hastily.
At which point, everyone here at Space.com is praying to the gods of science fiction (for there are many) at the altar on Altair that some kind of patched-in, vintage console game is used, just like in the Emmy Award winning episode of “Red Dwarf” entitled “Gunmen of the Apocalypse” (S03, E03). Why not? We’ve covered cabaret successfully in this installment, why not comedy next week?
It’s possible this will fare better in a binge watch, but unless Paramount changes its strategy (which will never happen) this episode will almost certainly get mixed reaction upon first airing in its week-by-week format.
In other Star Trek spinoff news, Paramount unveiled a new sneak peak at the third season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the animated series on Paramount Plus. You can check it out above.
The first six episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” are now available to watch on Paramount Plus (opens in new tab) and the premiere season of “Strange New Worlds” begins on May 5. Season 4 of “Star Trek: Discovery” is available to watch now on Paramount+ in the US and CTV Sci-Fi or Crave TV in Canada. Countries outside of North America can watch on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel.
If you want to find more Star Trek shows and movies in both the US and UK, check out our main Star Trek streaming guide. And if you’re looking for something for that Trek fan in your life, our Star Trek gifts and deals guide has everything your Trek heart may desire.