Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Star Trek: Picard” season 2, episode 9
You may recall that only a couple of weeks ago, we wrote “[Picard] will be the only new ‘Star Trek’ series to be written with a two-season story arc” since it was assumed this was the case given the back-to-back shooting of principal photography, complexity of the plot, pace of the story and just about everything else.
As such, we — just like you — believed we’d be given an impressive end-of-Season-2 cliffhanger to segue nicely into the third and final season that will probably air next year. But no. This is not the case.
Last week, “Star Trek” showrunner Terry Matalas responded to a simple but all-important question on Twitter and shattered what we didn’t even realize was an illusion.
“Is this a self contained season?? Or does it carry over to S3?” Asked @MiphasGrace21.
“Self contained,” replied Matalas.
So there you have it. And that means after this jam-packed penultimate episode nine that’s called “Hide and Seek” there is going to be a monster of a season finale. Or of course, it could be a half-baked pile of Pyrithian bat poop. Either way, if you need to get caught up before reading the rest of this review, check out our guide on how to stream Star Trek: Picard.
Now, on to “Hide and Seek.”
We pick up exactly where we left off last week, with the now three-fourths assimilated Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) leading her band of Budget Borg to attack the La Sirena. They even have wandering laser rifle sights that mimic the instantly recognizable laser eyepieces of more conventional Borg drones. It’s a clever way of mirroring the more traditional, threatening Borg that we’ve seen in “Star Trek: First Contact” and such like and that’s clearly very deliberate so we shall come back to this shortly. However, as nice as this touch is, we’re still unconvinced about the need for Discount Borg drones, so the subtlety is sadly wasted.
In all likelihood, the semi-assimilated Spearhead Operations soldiers were used quite literally for cannon fodder, so that when they get killed in a creative manner, the producers can sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that only Bad Guys bite the dust. And in fact, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) manages to beam a few of them from La Sirena into a solid brick wall in one of the many catacombs under Château Picard and as far as Terrifying Tales of Teleportation go, that’s up there. (Something similar happened in an early episode of NBC’s short-lived sci-fi “Debris.”) That said, simply scattering their atoms across the fields of La Barre would’ve been a far better idea. The more action that takes place in 2024, the greater the chance that a piece of physical evidence is left behind and the future is changed irrevocably.
Seven and Raffi (Michelle Hurd) create a hologram of Elnor (Evan Evagora) to help defend La Sirena as Jurati now takes on the physical form of the Brog Queen (Annie Wersching). And while there’s some debate over why he needs to wear a mobile hologram emitter while onboard the ship or why the hologram contains many of Elnor’s memories, that’s second to the fact that as a hologram, he should be impervious to bullets..? There’s even a fun, very discrete homage (so, not like “Discovery” then) to “Pulp Fiction” as he looks for his weapon of choice, à la Butch Coolidge.
Related: ‘Picard’ Season 3 cast announcement includes many familiar names
We also mentioned last week that each “guest” director has taken on two consecutive episodes: Douglas Aarniokoski E01, E02, Lea Thompson E03, E04, Jonathan Frakes E05, E06 and finally, Joe Menendez E07 and E08. The individual responsible for this penultimate episode and the season finale is Michael Weaver, a seasoned dramatic television cinematographer and director with this marking his first foray into science fiction.
Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) takes a hit as our intrepid time-travelling team advance on La Sirena and he’s beamed back to Tallinn’s (Orla Brady) apartment with Dr. Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez). Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his ancestral Romulan love interest meanwhile continue both a physical journey through the tunnels under the vineyard and a metaphoric journey through Jean-Luc’s mind as we see exactly what happened to his mother, Yvette (Madeline Wise) and father, Maurice, played once again by the legendary James Callis. It’s beautifully filmed and a really rather tragic story. (Nerd Note: eagle-eyed Jörg Hillebrand spotted that young Picard is playing with a model of Doug Drexler’s NX-01 refit, thus making it canon in yet another nice “Enterprise” reference.)
Dr. Soong (Brent Spiner) is wrecking mischief and gives chase through the maze of underground passages, leading the Budget Borg Army. Honestly, if they’d been equipped with night vision instead of some silly laser sight that gives away their position, this would all be over by now.
Related: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ episode 8 alludes to earlier Vulcan visit to Earth
The fight on La Sirena reaches a climax as Borg Queen Agnes takes out the Elnor hologram and badly injures Raffi and really badly injures Seven. Rios beams back into the fight just in time to save Jean-Luc but the sinister Soong escapes. And then, in this episode’s weakest moment, to save Seven, Queen Agnes puts Borg nanobites into her, thus — er, somehow — returning her implants that were missing in this alt-history. And then … Agnes steals La Sirena and flies off, presumably to make contact with the Collective currently living in the Delta Quadrant and leaving everyone stranded, in the middle of a deserted vineyard, in Eastern France in 2024.
There’s an undeniable hint in this episode of some “Star Trek: First Contact” influence, as the story is now taking on a plot to save the Europa mission launch, which in turn saves the future, much like it was necessary to save the launch of Zefram Cochrane’s first warp-capable ship, the Phoenix, in order to also save the future.
For the most part, this is not terrible. The pacing is good and the dialogue of each of the character confrontations is well written. A lot of depth is added to the existing story as the viewer is walloped by one plot twist, then another and then another. While the first season had some unquestionable highlights — “Stardust City Rag” (S01, E05) and “The Impossible Box” (S01, E06) were two such memorable moments — this second season has been consistently better. Yes, it dipped a little in the middle when there was clearly some indecision about how to spread the story evenly across the season structure, but Season 2 will probably fare much better in a rewatch.
Related: ‘Picard’ episode 7 is a massive metaphoric trip down Memory Lane
However, this all leaves quite a lot to be resolved if none of the events of this series are carrying forth into the next. Personally, I hope to see another La Sirena land and for another Picard and Rios to step out, greeting the existing group with, “How’s it hanging dudes?” and then they have to guess how many fingers New Rios is holding up behind his back to prove their legit. But, we’ll see.
In other “Star Trek” news, the premiere of the very latest live action, spin-off series, “Strange New Worlds” is this week, coincidentally on the same night as the “Picard” season finale, so Wednesday evening might be a late one for sci-fi fans.
The first nine episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” are now available to watch on Paramount Plus 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 Plus 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.