Star Trek: Picard Season 2 theory – what happened to Q?

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 2. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As the dust settles on Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, there are still questions that remain. Season 3 may build on some of what Season 2 brought to the table – the strange anomaly, most notably – but other narrative elements will fade into the background and won’t be revisited. For me, one of the unexplained elements that I found intriguing as the season wore on concerns Q. Specifically, what was it that caused this once-immortal superbeing to be reaching the end of his life? What caused Q to die?

For the sake of the story that Picard Season 2 aimed to tell, finding a cause for Q’s death was not strictly necessary. The point of Q’s story and Picard’s relationship with him wasn’t to figure out what was happening, find a cure, or reverse it, but to come to accept it and for Q to find forgiveness and redemption at the end of his life. In that sense, there wasn’t really a narrative problem with the idea of Q dying – but as Trekkies and as fans who’ve followed Q’s journey over the span of more than three decades, it definitely feels like there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. Even if Q’s death was inevitable, explaining why it was happening in the first place would have felt satisfying.

I’m such a Q fan that I have this Mego action figure of him!

We’ll probably have to address this in more detail when I get around to writing a proper retrospective-review of Season 2 as a whole, but one aspect of Q’s death that I feel wasn’t handled well is how nonchalant Picard seemed to be about it. Despite all the trouble he’s caused, the story here was about Picard finding a way to forgive Q and embrace the friendship he had been offering for decades. Wouldn’t someone like Picard have wanted to find out why his friend was dying? And wouldn’t someone like Picard want to do everything in his power to prevent it?

Even if we drop the “friendship” angle, Q is a unique life-form from Starfleet’s perspective. As a being who had been considered to be functionally immortal – or as close to it as the Federation has ever encountered, at least – learning more about the Q as a race and what could possibly harm them seems like an opportunity that a Starfleet Admiral shouldn’t have passed up. Even if it wasn’t possible to find a way to save Q’s life, I would have expected Picard to offer to try. And even if Q was unwilling to share too much information about his condition, his people, and the state of the Q Continuum, I would have expected Picard to have at least asked – and to have not immediately taken “no” for an answer.

Wouldn’t Picard have wanted to understand why Q was dying – and perhaps have offered to help save him?

Perhaps a longer season (or a season that was better-paced and didn’t waste time reaching its conclusion) could have dedicated more time to Q and included some of those questions. In Farewell, the Season 2 finale, Picard seemed to very quickly acknowledge that Q was dying, accept that fact at face-value, and made no effort to follow up on it or ask questions about it. While I understand why it happened that way in terms of the story, it leaves Q’s death feeling like it’s missing something critical – something that could’ve furthered our understanding of both Q himself and the Q Continuum as a whole.

So today, that’s what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to consider a handful of possibilities for why Q might’ve died at the end of Picard Season 2 and look at the pros and cons of each from both an in-universe and production-side perspective. It goes without saying that all of this is speculative and purely subjective; Q’s cause of death is highly unlikely to be explained on screen in the near future, and if you don’t like my ideas or I miss out something you do like, remember that this is all just the opinion of one person!

With all of that out of the way, let’s begin.

Theory #1:
Q was being punished by the Q Continuum.

Q after having been made mortal. And nude.

In The Next Generation Season 3 episode Deja Q, we saw Q come face-to-face with mortality for the first time. In that story, Q had his powers taken away by the Q Continuum – or whatever passes for the leadership of the Q – and found himself a mortal human. This seems to establish the principle that the Q Continuum has the power – in both a legal and physical sense – to strip individual Q of their immortality.

Though somewhat contradicted by the events of the Voyager episode Death Wish – in which it was strongly suggested that a member of the Q Continuum dying is something its leaders sought to prevent at any cost – Deja Q at least gives us something to work with. It was the first episode that established that certain members of the Q Continuum could inflict this kind of punishment on others, and while the specific nature of the Q Continuum and its power structure (if such a thing exists) is suitably vague, we at least have a starting point of sorts!

Another member of the Q Continuum – someone with the ability to make Q mortal.

Based on what we know about Q himself, and specifically his role in causing the death of a fellow Q, sparking a Q Civil War, and creating the first “baby” Q in thousands of years, perhaps we can piece together that the Continuum were not happy with Q’s behaviour and actions. Could it be possible that, after what Q did in episodes like The Q and the Grey, the leadership of the Continuum turned on him?

Given that we’ve also seen the Q Continuum strip powers – and immortality – away from at least two other Qs, this kind of punishment by the Continuum has to be a pretty high probability for explaining what happened to Q. Regardless of what reasons the Continuum may have had, as far as we know they’re the only ones powerful enough to force a Q to become mortal.

Theory #2:
The entire Q Continuum has been attacked.

The Q Continuum as it appeared in Voyager.

This was a theory that I hatched during Season 2 – so it may be familiar to you if you followed along with my weekly theory posts! In short, it seemed possible to me that one explanation for Q’s condition could be related to the Q Continuum itself. If the Continuum had been attacked by some outside force, maybe that could explain what was happening to Q – and it could also explain a cryptic line in Discovery Season 4. Admiral Vance explained to Captain Burnham that the 32nd Century Federation has had no contact with the Q Continuum in over 600 years – and while the events of Picard Season 2 took place approximately 780 years before that conversation, perhaps the two are linked somehow.

One line from Guinan in Picard Season 2 is also of interest here. Guinan described a “cold war” between her people and the Q Continuum in the past, a conflict that was eventually resolved. But based on what we know of the two races, a “cold war” doesn’t seem plausible, does it? The Q are immortal and god-like, and while the El-Aurians certainly have abilities of their own, they’re very much a race of mortals – a race who were conquered by the Borg. So any conflict between the Q and the El-Aurians should’ve been a one-sided rout. That is, unless the El-Aurians knew of some kind of weakness inherent in the Q.

Did the El-Aurians discover some kind of weakness in the Q Continuum?

Some kind of weak point in the Q Continuum would seem to be the only possible explanation for how the El-Aurians could pose any semblance of a threat. That weakness (whatever it may be) could be something that another faction discovered, and instead of negotiating as the El-Aurians had, they might’ve gone on the attack. Or after the El-Aurians were assimilated by the Borg, the Q Continuum’s weakness could’ve become known to them – which could mean that the Borg are responsible for attacking and defeating the Q.

So there are possibilities here – some of which are more plausible than others, admittedly – based on what we know! It isn’t clear whether the powers of an individual Q are tied in any way to the Q Continuum – but it’s possible that they are. If so, perhaps a weakness in the Continuum weakens every surviving Q, and the defeat or destruction of the Continuum would reduce the power of any Q who remained. It seems a possibility to me – even though it was never stated on screen.

Theory #3:
The Q Continuum was destabilised after its Civil War.

“Colonel Q” led one of the factions during the Q Civil War.

Voyager established that the Q Continuum devolved into civil war in the late 24th Century, with two opposing factions. The war came to an end with the birth of a new Q – the first such child in thousands of years. However, as Captain Janeway suggested toward the end of the episode: it doesn’t seem like having a baby would solve the underlying tensions within the Q Continuum.

While the causes of the war and its details were, in Q’s words: “beyond the understanding of humans,” it stands to reason that not only were the underlying issues not fully resolved, but that the fact that the Q Continuum was at war with itself in the first place would be hugely destabilising. After what seems to have been millennia of peace and quiet the Q Continuum was shattered by civil conflict, and as we know from out here in the real world, the consequences of wars – even brief ones – can be incredibly devastating and long-lasting.

Q was injured during the conflict.

Even if war never resumed between the two factions, there was still a lot of cleaning up to be done, rebuilding to achieve, and the need for reconciliation between one-time enemies. We don’t know for sure what kind of resources the Q Continuum might need to sustain itself, but it’s possible these were reduced or exhausted by the war, too. In the conflict’s aftermath, it’s even possible that two distinct Q Continuums were created.

Taking the Q Civil War as a starting point, we could argue that a general destabilisation of the Q Contniuum itself may have occurred. In the aftermath of the Civil War, perhaps the Q Continuum even collapsed, and individual members of the Q were left to fend for themselves. Without the support and resources of a united and undamaged Continuum, perhaps individual Q began to lose their powers and their immortality.

Theory #4:
Death by natural causes.

Did Q simply reach the end of his natural lifespan?

This seems to be what Picard Season 2 at least implied was happening to Q. Q gave no explanation for his impending death, seeming not to know why it was happening, and the explanation could simply be that Q reached the end of his natural life. To us, members of the Q Continuum may seem immortal, but it’s possible that they have a natural lifespan – even if it’s imperceptible to humans because it’s measured in millions or billions of years.

Q, despite appearances, may be one of the oldest members of the Q Continuum, and could thus be the first – or the first in many years – to reach such a ripe old age. He may not know what’s happening to him because death is incredibly rare in the Q Continuum, and a death by natural causes or old age simply hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Perhaps Q is the first of his race to reach this point.

We also don’t know how long Q has been flitting about the galaxy – nor how long it has been for Q in between visits to Picard. From Picard’s point of view, he last saw Q approximately 30 years ago (during the events of All Good Things at the end of The Next Generation). But has it only been 30 years for Q?

A being that can travel through time could have spent millions or billions of years away from Picard before reuniting with him. Q could have travelled back in time to the Big Bang and done other things for 13.8 billion years… then gone back to the Big Bang again and spent another 13.8 billion years killing time and doing his own thing before finally returning to Picard. In short, Q may be far, far older than we assume, and it might’ve been a lot longer in between visits than the 30 years of linear time that Picard experienced. All of these could explain why Q was coming to the end of his life.

Bonus Theory:
Q didn’t really die or was saved at the last moment.

Q’s final snap.

If there’s no body, is anyone in film or TV really dead? Star Wars uses this trope to an excessive degree! But maybe it’s true in Star Trek, too. After Q’s final “snap” that sent Picard and the crew of La Sirena back to the 25th Century, we don’t know what became of Q. Did his body dissipate into energy? Was he vaporised? Did his empty corpse collapse in a French vineyard while Rios and Teresa looked on?

Though it would completely undermine the powerful and deeply emotional sequence at the end of Season 2, maybe the real end to this story has yet to be written. Somehow – perhaps through the intervention of another member of the Q Continuum – Q actually survived, or was reborn immediately after sacrificing himself.

Q in what he described as “the afterlife.”

This… would not be my choice. As much fun as Q can be, establishing his death – and making it a huge part of the story of Picard Season 2 – was incredibly important and felt final. To undo that in any way would devastate the entire narrative arc of Picard Season 2. Given that most of the rest of that season’s storylines were weak, taking away one of the most powerful and most emotional moments would leave very little left.

There is scope for Q to return. His time-traveling nature could see him pop up in other stories as long as they took place prior to the events of Picard Season 2 from his perspective. His cameo in Lower Decks Season 1 is a case in point. But to bring back Q in a big way and claim that he somehow survived… I can’t see it working. It would take away so much of what made Picard Season 2 matter. With Picard seemingly ending after Season 3 as well, there’s less of an argument for including Q in a big way in future stories. He’s primarily a Picard-centric character, so if Picard is killed off or his departure from Star Trek is made permanent, there’s less of a reason to bring back this individual Q. Other members of the Continuum, sure. But this Q should probably remain dead.

So that’s it!

Picard and Q embrace.

Picard Season 2 didn’t explain what happened to Q. In terms of the way the story unfolded, it was ultimately “unnecessary” in order to get Picard and Q to come together and for Q to send Picard home to the 25th Century. The reason for Q’s declining health could have been built into the story, giving him additional motivation and focus, but again that didn’t have to happen based on the way the story was written. Finally, Q’s decline meant two things for the story: firstly, he wasn’t unbeatable any more, potentially giving Picard and the others a chance to stop him. And secondly, it meant that Q’s final act of the season – and final moment as a Star Trek character – was one of self-sacrifice, giving up his life to get Picard and his friends home.

Whether all of that worked just as well without an underlying cause is debatable. And I definitely believe that there was room within the story of the season to explain why Q was dying – and perhaps even to tie that into some other part of the franchise – even if such an explanation wasn’t entirely necessary for the story. The season’s story may not have been hanging from this one narrative thread, but even so it might have been worth it. It would certainly have been satisfying for returning fans from The Next Generation era.

Q as he appeared in Lower Decks.

I don’t think anything we saw on screen during Season 2 of Picard actively rules out any of the theories above – although I’d certainly entertain the argument that Q might’ve mentioned something incredibly major such as the Borg assimilation of the entire Q Continuum! But with Star Trek seemingly setting Q aside for the foreseeable future, it falls to us as Trekkies to speculate and propose answers to one of Season 2’s biggest unexplained story points.

I hope this was a bit of fun – or at least interesting. Personally I’d have liked the writers of Picard Season 2 to have come up with some explanation for Q’s death that felt conclusive. Although the Q Continuum and its denizens are difficult for humans to understand, that doesn’t mean there’s total free rein to throw Q into all kinds of different stories and just use “it’s a mystery” or “you’d never get it” as excuses to cover up the fact that no real answer to the question was created in the first place! So while the cause of Q’s death may not have been critical for the story that Picard Season 2 aimed to tell, not even attempting to make up some semblance of an explanation for it definitely leaves me feeling like something was missing as the story came to an end.

In a better and more enjoyable season of Star Trek, maybe I could see past that and revel in the story that was told rather than picking at threads and asking “why wasn’t this included?” But because Picard Season 2 was, at best, a mixed bag with episodes of inconsistent quality… the fact that it ended leaving behind something that feels like it could’ve been significant feels all the worse. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 10: Farewell

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and casting announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationFirst Contact, and Voyager.

So here we are! Although it seems like only yesterday that we were settling in for The Star Gazer after a two-year wait for Picard Season 2, it’s time to bid “farewell” to Admiral Picard and the (remaining) crew of La Sirena. At least the wait for Season 3 – which has already begun filming – shouldn’t be quite as long!

Season 2 took a meandering and frustrating route to reach this end point, and while Farewell had some real emotional highlights and moments of excitement, I can’t shake the feeling that the lessons of Season 1 weren’t heeded. Just as happened last time around, there were a lot of underdeveloped moments, stories that needed longer in the spotlight, and narrative threads that missed the mark not because they were bad, but because the season wasted time getting here. While I can happily say that I enjoyed Farewell, it wasn’t as good as it might’ve been.

Admiral Picard on the bridge of the USS Stargazer.

Most of the story complaints that I have really aren’t Farewell’s fault on its own. They’re actually the consequence of a slow, muddled season that dedicated too much time in earlier episodes to what ultimately ended up as extraneous fluff. The episode Watcher, for example, spent a huge amount of time tracking down Rios and Tallinn – and those sequences could have been massively shortened to move the story along at a more reasonable pace. That would’ve allowed last week’s episode, Hide and Seek, to have fully wrapped up the Europa Mission and Renée stories – stories that Farewell had to blitz through to get Picard and the crew to meet Q and get back to the 25th Century.

Farewell felt like a busy episode from the first moment, and considering how much story was left to cram in, I think that’s to be expected. I will give credit where it’s due and say that the director and editors did a good job; the best they could with the material they had, I suspect. Although several storylines were undeniably rushed as the season raced toward its end, the cinematography and production values remained high.

The USS Excelsior.

Perhaps you might think this is unfair criticism, but it feels to me as though Picard Season 2 blew most of its budget – in terms of both set-building and CGI – on The Star Gazer and the second half of Farewell. That’s where we got back to the new sets that had been built for the USS Stargazer and that’s where we saw a return of the outstanding animation work seen in the season premiere. The Federation fleet that faced down the Borg – and later the strange anomaly – looked absolutely fantastic, and seeing a big, beautiful Federation fleet in action will be something that I never tire of.

I’m sure that we’ll be seeing the new USS Stargazer back in action in Season 3 (and maybe even a spin-off series one day), so that’s definitely something to look forward to. I talked about this in my review of the premiere, but the design of the Stargazer inside and out felt like the perfect natural evolution of the aesthetic and design philosophy of The Next Generation era shows and films. Seeing more of that ship would be a request of mine – and it’s my hope that Picard will serve as a springboard for more adventures in the early 25th Century.

The Borg vessel and the Federation fleet stop the anomaly.

So let’s start with the shortest and least-interesting of the storylines in Farewell. Kore Soong was a non-entity this season. Her presence served only to provide Dr Adam Soong with some degree of motivation – motivation which at first had me thinking he might be a complex and nuanced character, but that quickly fell away. She didn’t do much of consequence, she was flat and uninteresting, and aside from being a supporting character to prop up the very one-dimensional Adam Soong, her presence seems to have been Picard’s producers throwing a bone to Isa Briones, whose main character of Soji hasn’t been present all season long (and didn’t even show up in the little epilogue when the characters got together in Guinan’s bar).

Kore choosing to hack into and delete her dad’s files was something and nothing. It makes sense – I guess – but it doesn’t feel like it accomplished anything for the story other than finding something for Kore to do after walking out on her home and her life. She doesn’t seem to feel conflicted in any way about that decision, even though she appears to have spent her entire life living with her father in that carefully-shielded house.

Kore’s story also came to an end.

However, I was more than happy to forget all about Kore’s wasted storylines because of the totally unexpected arrival of Wesley Crusher. Tying the Travelers into the same organisation that Tallinn and Gary Seven worked for was a masterstroke; I was totally blindsided by something that I genuinely did not anticipate. Having seen more than 800 Star Trek stories over the span of more than thirty years, the fact that the franchise can still pull off genuinely shocking moments like that – moments that also tie into over fifty-six years’ worth of lore – is amazing. Moments like that are why I love Star Trek, and they can go a long way to redeeming even the most mediocre of stories and flattest of characters.

I had been feeling frustrated that, six episodes on from her introduction, Tallinn appeared to have died without her storyline going into any detail at all about the mysterious organisation she worked for. Going all the way back to Season 2 of The Original Series, there had been questions about this faction and what their objectives might be; I felt disappointed that we weren’t going to get any further explanation. But to my delight, the totally unexpected arrival of Wesley Crusher provided at least a partial answer – and tied together The Original Series, his own role in The Next Generation, and the events of this season in absolutely wonderful fashion.

Wesley Crusher made an unexpected but thoroughly welcome return to Star Trek.

As a moment of pure fan-service, I can totally understand why Farewell didn’t spend more time with Welsey and Kore – as much as I’d have loved it. It would’ve been wonderful to see Wesley reunite with Picard, but in an episode that was very busy I can understand why it didn’t happen. And I don’t interpret this moment as setting up a major new spin-off following Wesley, Kore, and other Travelers and Supervisors – again, as fun as that might be for fans! It was simply a cute cameo; a way to both include a classic character from The Next Generation while also providing closure of a sort to Kore’s story.

There are many questions that I have about what might happen next for Wesley and Kore – as well as why he chose to reach out to her. I assume that the Supervisors and Travelers pick individuals who are both brilliant and somewhat out-of-place – Kore won’t be missed if she vanishes from Earth in 2024 in the way that someone else might, for example. But I guess we should save the speculation for a future theory article!

Wesley and Kore.

Captain Rios’ story has been a disappointment all season long, and the explanation why is simple: we caught a glimpse of him in the season premiere living his best life, but the series stripped that away from him and regressed him back to his Season 1 presentation. If Rios had been not the captain of the USS Stargazer but even just its first officer, at least some of that would’ve abated. But because we’d seen him as a Starfleet captain, the way he seemed to forget about his ship and those under his command had been really grating on me since Penance. The conclusion to his story this time, which saw him written out of the series, just capped off that disappointment.

If it hadn’t been for seeing him in command of the USS Stargazer, I think I could’ve let slide much of what Rios went through – although I would still have some questions. The culmination of his arc this time feels less like a natural decision for either him or Teresa to make and more like one driven by a writers’ room desperate to get rid of main cast members in anticipation of the return of The Next Generation characters in Season 3. Along with Dr Jurati, Rios drew the short straw.

Rios’ story was disappointing this season.

I said in my review of The Star Gazer that I’d be happy to see a spin-off following Captain Rios’ adventures, and had he stuck to the new characterisation that we saw back then, I would’ve absolutely been down for that. Unfortunately Rios’ departure now means that can’t happen – but after seeing the way he regressed as a character this season, I was already less keen on spending more time with him and less confident that he could carry a new series.

As with other narrative threads in Farewell, Rios’ departure was rushed. The episode dedicated less than two minutes of its runtime to Rios saying his goodbyes, and whatever decisions or discussions he’d had with Teresa appear to have happened entirely off-screen. Did Rios, for example, offer to take Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century? Did he consider the consequences of staying – both for the timeline and for himself? I mean… World War III is literally right around the corner (in Star Trek, not in the real world… I hope), and the first three-quarters of the 21st Century is arguably one of the worst and most difficult parts of Earth’s entire history in the Star Trek timeline. I know that Rios stayed “because he was in love,” but even so… couldn’t he have thought of something else? Maybe he skipped history class.

Rios chose to stay with Teresa and Ricardo.

As the culmination of a season-long arc, one that took Rios away from much of the rest of the action and that marks his final end as a Star Trek character, the send-off Rios got was poor. So much more could have been made of this moment – but at the same time, with Rios having been so disconnected from almost everyone else all season long, it’s perversely fitting that his goodbye was brief and to the point. Despite what he said in an earlier episode about viewing Picard as a “father figure,” and the words they shared as he prepared to remain behind, I never felt that Rios and Picard were especially close. They were acquaintances; business colleagues. Work friends but not real friends.

One of the things that I wanted from Picard, going all the way back to the show’s initial announcement, was to meet some new characters and spend time with them. Obviously in a series with a clear protagonist there’s going to be a limit on the number of characters that can be included and how much detail their story arcs can receive, but there was so much potential in someone like Rios. It was never mentioned in a big way, but Rios is only one of a handful of Hispanic characters to have appeared in a big way in Star Trek, and the first major Hispanic character to be given the rank of captain and to command a starship. There was so much scope to do more with Captain Rios, and I guess I’m just disappointed that a character with potential – perhaps even spin-off potential – was sidelined, regressed, and kind of wasted in this mad rush to bring back The Next Generation characters in Season 3.

So long, Captain Rios…

Another character who fell victim to this need to trim the main cast was Dr Jurati, but in her case at least she seems to have had more of a substantial arc this season. Although I would be remiss not to point out that in both seasons of the show Dr Jurati ended up causing massive, catastrophic problems for Picard! She didn’t do so on purpose, of course, but it’s interesting to see that the writers chose to follow up her murder of Bruce Maddox by transforming her into the new Borg Queen!

It was obvious, of course, by the time Picard and the crew returned to the bridge of the USS Stargazer that Dr Jurati would be the face behind the mask, and so it proved. I was a little surprised that Farewell seemed to treat this as some kind of big revelation; I can’t imagine that even the most casual and uninterested of viewers wouldn’t have been able to put two and two together long before Picard set up Dr Jurati’s unmasking.

The Borg Queen unmasked.

As above, Dr Jurati was a character with potential. She was also someone who felt closer to Picard in terms of friendship than Captain Rios, and there was certainly scope to see her continue in her un-assimilated role in future stories. Unlike with Rios, though, there’s definitely a substantial season-long arc for Dr Jurati that worked well enough. She felt lonely and isolated, never being able to hold down a relationship or partnership, and through a strange marriage with the Borg Queen ended up with hundreds, thousands, or perhaps even millions of friends. She also got the chance to become partially synthetic – which I have to assume she would approve of based on what we saw of her last time.

Since we’re dealing with the Borg, the reason for their appearance at the beginning of the season was paid off. The sudden appearance of an unexplained anomaly that threatened the quadrant meant that the Borg wished to team up with the Federation to save lives, and generally I liked this angle and I think there’s potential in it. My initial thought was that it could be connected to the Season 1 super-synths, but again that’ll be something to discuss in a future theory article.

What is this strange anomaly? And crucially… will we revisit it next time?

My concern on this side of the story stems from the fact that we know that Alison Pill, who plays Dr Jurati and the new Borg Queen, doesn’t seem to be returning for Season 3. If the Borg chose to remain at the anomaly as a “guardian at the gate,” as Borg-Jurati put it, that seems to imply we won’t have anything to do with her next time around – and thus we may not be revisiting this anomaly. I certainly hope that won’t be the case, because if we don’t get back here it will seriously jeopardise this season’s entire story by making it feel meaningless. Thirty seconds of screen time for a weird anomaly that one character believed could be damaging doesn’t really justify an entire season wandering in the past, nor the loss of two (or three) major characters.

The question of what the Borg wanted loomed large over the entire season, even while Picard and the crew scrambled to save the future from their base in 2024. Now that we have an answer to that question – they wanted help to stop the anomaly from harming the Alpha Quadrant – we need to go deeper. There needs to be some greater story arc that can tie into the closing moments of Season 2, even if it isn’t the main storyline of Season 3.

The Borg vessel and the strange anomaly.

One thing that Farewell didn’t have time to explain was the relationship between the Jurati-led Borg and the Borg Collective that we’ve seen elsewhere in Star Trek. Is the Jurati-Borg faction separate from the Borg or did they somehow replace the rest of the Collective? Are there now two distinct Borg Collectives? It seems like there must be – because everyone involved seems to believe that the prime timeline has been restored, and that couldn’t have happened if the Jurati-Queen took over the entire Borg Collective. Events like the Battle of Wolf 359 and the attempted assimilation of Earth in First Contact wouldn’t have happened – or would have been changed entirely – if the Jurati-Queen was leading the whole Collective. But this is something that should’ve been given more of an explanation – and it’s indicative of the fact that Farewell was overstuffed with story threads.

The season also ended without detailing in any way how the Confederation were able to defeat the Borg using 25th Century technology. While this may not have been important for wrapping up the stories that were in play, it was a pretty big point earlier in the season. There was the potential for something that the Confederation had developed to come into play, even at this late stage, and although I’d pretty much given up on learning anything more about the Confederation several weeks ago, the way the season ended now leaves the entire Confederation timeline feeling like one massive contrivance.

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

The Confederation timeline existed as a spur for other storylines, and if we had never seen it and only heard about it in passing, maybe that would be fine. But for those of us invested in the Star Trek universe, creating an entirely new setting, populating it with characters, and telling us that those characters did something as monumental as defeating the Borg, only to leave all of the hows and wherefores unexplained is disappointing. With no return to the Confederation timeline on the agenda – and the question of whether it still exists in any form in serious doubt – it feels like it served the story but in an unrealistic way.

Presumably Adam Soong had to survive because with Kore taking off with Wesley and the Travelers, there needs to be some way for his family line to continue in order to reach Data’s creator and the other Soongs we’ve met. Villains don’t need to be killed off in order for their defeats to feel satisfying, and seeing Adam Soong realise that he’d been beaten was a well-done sequence overall. I also appreciated the Khan reference – and the date-stamp.

Is this merely an Easter egg… or could it be a tease of something yet to come?

Star Trek’s internal timeline can feel inconsistent if you go all the way back to The Original Series and watch episodes that reference events in the late 20th or early 21st Centuries. I’ve always assumed that Star Trek and the real world diverged sometime around the 1960s, and the reference to “Project Khan” being in 1996 ties in with what we know from Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan about legendary villain Khan’s origins. I’m glad that Star Trek isn’t trying to overwrite any of this – and it makes me wonder if there may yet be a reprieve for the proposed Ceti Alpha V miniseries! At the very least, Adam Soong looking up “Project Khan” seems to imply that he’ll be returning to his work on genetic engineering – tying in with the appearance of another Dr Soong in Enterprise.

As a character who we’ve only just started getting to know and who has great potential, I’m glad that Elnor survived the season and I look forward to his continued participation in Picard – and hopefully in future Star Trek productions as well. However… his survival renders one of the best and most emotional moments from last week completely impotent, and I’m left wondering why Hide and Seek even bothered to include it.

Elnor’s survival makes one of last week’s biggest emotional moments entirely irrelevant.

One of the things driving Raffi all season has been Elnor’s death – and after speaking with a holographic recreation last week in one of the season’s best and most powerful emotional sequences, she seemed ready to come to terms with it and let go of the guilt she’d been feeling. That was one of the highlights of last week’s episode, and a significant moment that seemed to signal that the shocking decision to kill off Elnor in Assimilation would indeed be permanent.

However, that moment now feels like wasted time, even more so considering that several of the storylines present in Farewell could’ve used a few extra minutes. Had holo-Elnor’s role been cut from Hide and Seek, replaced with literally anyone else to fill the “combat hologram” role, the wasted moment with Raffi and the now-gratuitous sequences that seemed to be bidding goodbye to the character could’ve been reallocated to other, more pressing stories. Seeing how Raffi dealt with Elnor’s death earlier in the season isn’t undermined by his survival – but the scene in which she came to terms with it absolutely is. As deeply emotional as that moment was, it now feels like a total waste.

Raffi was relieved to see Elnor again.

Perhaps this is my dislike of the 21st Century storylines showing, but I never really felt all that invested in Renée and the Europa Mission. For the supposedly-most important event in the show that our characters had to protect, the Europa Mission and Renée herself had been absent for several episodes as the season’s story continued its slow plod to this rushed conclusion. I wasn’t mad that the rocket launch was raced past to allow Farewell to get to other storylines… but it wasn’t exactly a spectacular ending for what has been the driving force in the story of the season since the third episode.

There were some moments of tension as Adam Soong’s drones appeared to be in danger of blowing up Seven, Rios, and Raffi, and again when he’d managed to successfully infiltrate the Europa Mission launch. I stand by what I said a couple of weeks ago, by the way: that Adam Soong having been kicked out of the scientific community should be a pretty serious barrier to his involvement in something like the Europa Mission… but his status and finances are something that, once again, Picard Season 2 didn’t find time to go into any detail on.

How Adam Soong was able to buy his way into Europa Mission HQ wasn’t really explained.

This part of Farewell secured Renée’s mission – one which seems to have been beneficial for Earth itself and set humanity on a path that would eventually lead to first contact and the creation of the Federation. It was also an opportunity to kill off Tallinn – her death being the “price” for Renée’s survival rounds out her arc in a reasonable way.

I didn’t understand why Q believes that Tallinn always dies at this stage in “every” timeline; it seems to me that the only threat to Renée came about because of Q’s interference, and thus had Q not intervened there’d be no reason for Adam Soong or the Borg Queen to go after her or try to prevent the Europa Mission at all. So I guess I don’t get that line – it was included, perhaps, to make Tallinn’s sacrifice feel more justifiable, but it raises as many questions as it answers (if not more!)

Why does Tallinn die in “every” timeline?

This sets up a discussion about the nature of Q’s intervention. Although establishing a Jurati-Borg seems to have prevented some kind of cataclysm in the 25th Century, that isn’t why Q did it – at least, not based on what he told Picard in Farewell. This was all about Picard learning to come to terms with his past and his loss and because Q considered him a friend and a favourite.

But there are some pretty notable problems with this setup – and with Picard’s ultimate reaction to it. People died as a result of Q’s actions, and whether directly or indirectly he’s responsible for that. Q was able to wave away Tallinn’s death and resurrect Elnor – so from the point of view of main characters I guess he gets somewhat of a pass. But what about the dozen or more assimilated semi-Borg who died last week? They were human beings; people whose lives were cut short as a direct result of Q’s intervention. Picard was clearly willing to forgive Q for this extended Tapestry redux – but even if we assume that there are no timeline consequences from the loss of those individuals… they’re still people who died and who won’t be resurrected as a result of what Q did. The morality of it bugs me.

Q’s actions cost lives – and Picard seems okay with it.

So we’ve come to the purpose of the entire story: Q wanted to teach Picard to overcome the traumatic moment in his own past. He wanted Picard to learn to embrace the person that he is; to choose to become that person. That’s a familiar theme that we’ve seen from Q in the past, most notably in the episode Tapestry. In that story, Q gave Picard the opportunity to change mistakes in his past – but he did so in order to demonstrate to him that the mistakes are what made him the person he is. It’s not exactly the same story, because in this instance Picard had to embrace a dark and traumatic event that was beyond his control, and recognise that he can’t always save everybody. But it’s close – and I like that. It means that at least thematically, Q stayed true to his characterisation.

In terms of the wider lore of Star Trek, including the role of the Q Continuum in potential future productions, I wish we’d learned why Q was dying. Although Q wasn’t a main character for most of the season, his impending death spurred him on and served as the main motivation for why he was intervening in Picard’s life at this moment – and for that to end without being explained, and without Picard so much as offering to help, feels a bit hollow.

Q’s final snap.

However, on the flip side there’s something very relatable – and dare I say very human – about not knowing what’s happening and finding no explanation for it. Speaking as someone with health conditions, I can relate to what Q has been going through. Knowing that things will only get worse, losing abilities that you’d once taken for granted, and being acutely aware that – as Picard once put it – “there are fewer days ahead than there are behind,” these are all very understandable feelings, and the idea that Q took inspiration from his own failing health to use his remaining time to help someone who he has always considered to be a friend… there’s something sweet about that.

From an in-universe point of view, Q has always been a wildcard. The schemes and puzzles that he concocts can seem incredibly random, but they usually have a point. Riker was given the powers of the Q as a test, Picard was given just enough information to solve the Farpoint mystery, Q helped Picard move through three different time periods to solve the anti-time eruption, and so on. In this case, the point Q wanted to make was served by the actions that he took… but in a very disconnected way. While we eventually got to Q’s point – that Picard needed to let go of his trauma, embrace who he is, and learn to love – it took a very long time through a very jumbled sequence of events. And unlike in stories such as Tapestry, Q’s actions this time had a significant impact on other people.

Q did it all for Picard.

Whatever we may think of the new Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid, would that have been a destiny that Dr Jurati would have chosen for herself? Was it where she needed to end up, or could she have led a perfectly happy life as a 25th Century human? Q stripped that choice from her, and Picard seems content to roll with it. While Renée did ultimately make it onto her spacecraft, Q screwed with her mental health in a major way, sabotaging her therapy and doing what he could to undermine her. Q’s actions directly led to Tallinn’s death, as well as the deaths of a dozen or more humans that had been partially-assimilated. Q also stranded Rios in the 21st Century – and again, while Rios was happy enough to make that choice, he could have also lived a happy life in the 25th Century had Q not interfered.

In short, other Q stories across Star Trek haven’t been so destructive. If there was a bigger purpose – such as the Jurati-Borg stopping some galactic catastrophe – and that was Q’s main objective, perhaps we could overlook it. The scale would be tipped in such a way that, to quote Spock, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” But Q did it all for Picard’s sake – so the needs of the many were, in Q’s view, outweighed by the needs of the one.

Picard with Q.

Maybe that makes sense to Q, but is Picard okay with it? He seems to be fine with learning that Q did all of this, made all of these changes for his sake and his alone – and I’m not sure I buy it. Maybe Q is right – maybe Tallinn always dies in every conceivable timeline. But does Dr Jurati always become a Borg? Does Rios always quit Starfleet to live through World War III? Do all of those paramilitary people die in 2024? Q might be fine with changing people’s lives, but I’m struggling to accept that Picard would be, especially if he knows that Q was doing it all for his sake.

It also raises another question: was there really no other way for Picard to process his trauma? Did it truly require establishing the Confederation timeline, killing all those people, and spending all that time stranded in the 21st Century? Couldn’t Q have just… got Picard into therapy? Or given him those dreams of his mother in the 25th Century?

Picard prepares to embrace Q.

These points may seem nitpicky, but this is the foundation of the story. Everything Picard and the others have been through over the past ten episodes hinges on this explanation. Q set all of this up because Picard couldn’t let go of a trauma he’s been carrying since childhood, and Q felt that trauma was holding him back and preventing him from learning to love and being happy. And because of that, Q decided that the best way to get through to Picard and get him to work through his mental health issues was by changing centuries’ worth of history and forcing Picard to travel back in time.

In a way, it’s a very “Q” thing. But at the same time, where past Q stories have felt at least vaguely connected to the goals he had, this one requires more than a few leaps to get from point A to point B. Maybe you can suspend your disbelief, get lost in this presentation of Q, and happily accept this explanation. For me… I’m struggling a little.

Q’s plot feels quite convoluted this time around.

However, that isn’t to detract from a wonderfully emotional sequence between Q and Picard. Recognising what Q had done and understanding why he did it, Picard found himself willing to embrace the friendship that Q had been offering him for decades. Picard was able to set aside the animosity he had for Q – allowing Q to spend what appear to be his final moments with a friend. As Picard said, he won’t die alone.

Does that make the whole story worthwhile? It was definitely a beautiful sequence, and after clashes, conflicts, and an ongoing “trial,” it was nice to see Picard and Q reconcile as Q reached the end of his life. Themes of love, of letting go, and of acceptance were weaved through these moments, and while we didn’t get an explanation for everything – including why Q is dying and what may have become of other members of his species – it was satisfying enough as we bid what seems to be a final farewell to a character who was first introduced in the very first episode of The Next Generation.

Picard meets with Q for the final time.

Q giving what remained of his life force or energy to send Picard home was likewise a sweet moment; a final act of kindness that, while it arguably doesn’t redeem Q for everything he’s done, went some way to making his final moments positive, and showed that he has perhaps learned a thing or two from Picard along the way. I did enjoy Q’s line that Picard was his “favourite,” along with the implication that, of all the many beings that Q must’ve met over his many years of life, Picard was someone special to him – special enough to spend his final moments with.

I wonder if in a future Star Trek story – perhaps even in Season 3 – we’ll learn what became of Q and why he was dying. As I said above, for the purposes of this story the exact reason (which would likely have been technobabble) doesn’t matter in a narrative sense, but as Trekkies, I think we have a curiosity about the world of Star Trek and a desire to know these things! I would certainly be interested to know why, after seeming to have been alive for billions of years, Q suddenly found himself dying.

An emotional farewell.

That only leaves us with Seven of Nine to talk about – and her field commission as a Starfleet captain that she seemed to receive during the Borg mission. Seven has been one of my favourite characters in both seasons of Picard; the growth and development that she’s received has completely changed my opinion of someone who was once my least-favourite character from Voyager. After seeing how she’d become much more human, how she’d come to terms with the loss of Icheb (something I’m surprised wasn’t mentioned to Raffi as part of the Elnor story, I must say), this season she got to reconcile her history with both the Borg and Starfleet.

Consider where Seven was at the beginning of the season. Like Michael Burnham in Discovery’s premiere episode, Seven wanted to shoot first the moment the Borg emerged. The idea of listening to anything they might have to say was unfathomable to her. Yet by the season finale, after what she went through with Dr Jurati, she was willing not only to listen, but to follow the Borg’s lead. She put her trust in the Borg, overcoming decades’ worth of hostility that she’d been holding onto.

Seven of Nine in the captain’s chair.

Could we see more from Seven in future? The idea of her and Raffi having their own adventures – either within Starfleet or outside of it – is an enticing one, but I guess we’ll have to see what Season 3 has in store for them first. With potentially three departures from the main cast, there’s room for Seven of Nine to stay on board, particularly if the story of Season 3 continues to involve the Borg. At the same time, though, unlike the new characters who won’t be returning, Seven’s arc across both seasons of the show leaves her in a pretty good place. If this is going to be her swansong, she ends the series in a strong position.

Having had a run-in with Q in the Voyager Season 7 episode Q2, it was a shame that Farewell didn’t see Seven and Q say so much as a single word to each other, and again this is the consequence of a season finale that was left with a lot of work to do to wrap everything up. It wasn’t essential, but it would’ve been nice to at least acknowledge that they’d met each other before racing ahead with the rest of the plot.

Seven of Nine and Raffi.

So that was Farewell. It was the best episode since the season premiere, but that’s damning with faint praise. We’ll have to take a broader look at Season 2 as a whole in the days or weeks ahead, because I have to say that, despite an outstanding premiere and a solid final half-episode, this meandering stroll through the 21st Century was far from my favourite season of Star Trek.

Taken on its own merits, though, Farewell tied together as many of the narrative threads as it could. There weren’t huge gaping holes left behind, but a number of story beats weren’t as well-developed as they could’ve been, and the slow, plodding pace of much of the rest of the season meant that we arrived at this point with the season finale having to do a lot of heavy lifting to get across the finish line. Farwell did what it could in the confines of its runtime, but realistically, much of the damage had already been done and there was a limit on how much a single episode could do to redeem an underwhelming season.

The USS Stargazer.

There were some genuinely heartwarming moments along the way. Wesley Crusher’s surprise appearance (which thankfully wasn’t spoiled in advance) may actually be the highlight for me, and I enjoyed seeing Seven of Nine step up to work with the Borg after returning to the 25th Century as well. Picard and Q’s reconciliation feels incredibly sweet – but it isn’t a storyline free from questions. As the season’s main driving force, it ended in a way that left some points feeling unexplained or underdeveloped, and despite the emotional highs, that taints things a little for me.

Where Picard Season 1 was generally a fun ride that was spoiled by an underwhelming ending, Season 2 has been an underwhelming and occasionally frustrating story that somehow managed to pull out a passable ending. Farewell didn’t hit the same high notes as The Star Gazer had ten weeks ago, but by the time Picard and the crew were back home, it came close. If the second half of the episode had been given more time and was stretched out over forty-five minutes instead of twenty-five, perhaps we’d be able to consider it a bit more favourably.

So that’s it for now. I won’t be publishing any reviews or theories for Strange New Worlds over the next few weeks, because unfortunately the series is “officially” unavailable here in the UK. But stay tuned for more Star Trek content here on the website, including the conclusion of my Picard Season 2 theories, some initial thoughts about Season 3, and eventually a proper retrospective-review of Season 2 as a whole. Until next time!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 9: Hide and Seek

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationFirst Contact, and Voyager.

This review deals with the sensitive topics of mental health and suicide and may be uncomfortable for some readers.

If I’ve done my counting right, then I believe Hide and Seek is Jean-Luc Picard’s 200th Star Trek appearance. It gets a little fuzzy when we look at two-part episodes that are occasionally considered as feature-length outings, but if we go in broadcast order then I’m pretty sure that the character of Jean-Luc Picard has now appeared in 200 Star Trek productions (including four films). So that’s pretty neat!

Hide and Seek was an exciting episode that focused on the Borg side of the story in a big way. But it was also an episode that fell into the trap of some pretty clichéd storytelling, something that definitely detracted from some of the impact that the story had. There were some emotional highlights – including some wonderful performances from Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, and Jeri Ryan – but overall, I’m left feeling that the season has taken a slow and meandering route to reach this point, and that more time could’ve been spent on some of these interesting storylines and powerful moments had some of the extraneous fluff been cut out from earlier episodes.

It was a dark and stormy night…

For the first time this season, I wasn’t wild about some of the cinematography in Hide and Seek. Parts of the episode were coloured with a dark blue hue – something not uncommon on television to indicate darkness – but I found that it gave those sequences a washed-out look. Though we aren’t anywhere close to the failures of something like The Long Night in Game of Thrones’ eighth season, the colour palette did not flatter the scenes set at Château Picard, and the episode suffered for this creative choice.

Hide and Seek doubled-down on exploring the trauma that Picard faced in his youth, and it was revealed that the memory he’s been repressing was his mother’s suicide and discovering her body. As in Monsters a couple of weeks ago, though, I’m struggling to see how this story connects with what’s happening in the rest of the season, and why the series has decided that this hitherto unknown chapter of Picard’s life warranted so much time dedicated to it.

Hide and Seek delved once again into Picard’s youth.

In a general sense, I’m not averse to the idea of taking an established character and fleshing them out, giving more detail to their background and history. And as stated earlier in the season, I can’t recall anything from Picard’s past Star Trek appearances that would’ve explicitly ruled out something like this happening to him in his youth. However, when dealing with a character who’s made as many appearances as Picard, these kinds of stories have to serve some greater purpose – and right now, this story of Picard’s youth and his mother’s death doesn’t appear to do that.

As I asked in my review of Monsters: what aspect of Picard’s character, personality, temperament, or personal philosophy does this revelation explain? How do we as the audience feel that we understand Picard any better in light of this season spending a significant chunk of its runtime on this story? We know more about Picard’s past in a factual sense – but the facts that have been brought to light don’t inform his characterisation in any way, neither here in Picard nor in The Next Generation. There’s no “aha!” moment where the way Picard has behaved, or his stance on life, suddenly seems to click.

It doesn’t feel like this moment informs Picard’s character in any significant way.

If the story itself had been handled differently, perhaps in a season with fewer other things going on, I think I could forgive it. But during two out of the season’s ten episodes now, a significant amount of time has been taken away from other, more interesting and engaging stories to flesh out an aspect of Picard’s backstory that feels unnecessary.

A character like Picard, who has made so many Star Trek appearances, has unexplored moments in his past that a story like this could’ve told. We could’ve learned, for example, that a similar trauma stems from his time in command of the USS Stargazer – the death of Jack Crusher springs to mind as an unexplained event that would be both traumatic and ripe for a deep dive. But this story shone a light on a part of Picard’s past that none of us could’ve anticipated – and when there are events in his past that feel like they could’ve been more interesting, I guess I’m left wondering what might’ve been.

Other events in Picard’s past could’ve taken us on a similar journey.

Picard’s story also had a very “20th Century” feel to it, and as I’ve said on more than one occasion, that doesn’t feel very Star Trek-y. We know from The Next Generation that Picard had an upbringing on a vineyard and that his family weren’t in favour of him joining Starfleet, so in that sense none of it is contradictory. But from the point of view of someone sitting down to watch Star Trek and not some other contemporary drama series, it’s a tad disappointing when the series spends so much time either in the modern-day or in a setting that feels also very much like the modern-day.

And again we come to the mental health side of the story. I was deeply disappointed with what we saw in Monsters, and while nothing in Hide and Seek sank to that level, Yvette’s mental health condition was again underdeveloped and fell into the trap of stereotyping. Continuing our theme of feeling like a story from contemporary times, not three centuries in the future, we saw no attempt made to use the technology of the early 24th Century to help Yvette. Did her husband do anything to help her? Locking away someone with mental health issues “for their own safety” is the kind of thing that the Victorians did – and although Picard seemed to get to a place in Monsters where he could understand the burden his father carried and forgive him, the way Maurice treated Yvette raises some seriously disturbing questions.

Maurice Picard.

As someone who is disabled and who has diagnosed mental health conditions, one of the things that I’ve always found inspirational about Star Trek’s future is this idea that many of the ailments people today have to live with will one day be curable. Medical technology that’s akin to magic has been present in the Star Trek franchise since the beginning, and while mental health hasn’t often been depicted in a particularly sympathetic way (look at episodes like Whom Gods Destroy or Statistical Probabilities, for example) I’ve always liked the concept Star Trek proposes: that one day, cures for many health issues – including mental health conditions – will be discovered.

Hide and Seek chose to ignore that, and if it had done so for a better reason, I might be able to overlook it, or at least reduce my negative feelings toward it. But because the story of Yvette’s suicide and its impact on Picard feels so disconnected from everything else going on this season, it just hammers home for me that many of the narrative decisions on this side of the story were, at best, odd. At worst I’d call the whole thing pretty poor.

Yvette Picard’s suicide.

One final note on this aspect of Hide and Seek: for the first time, I felt Star Trek: Picard fall into a storytelling trap that has tripped up sister show Discovery on multiple occasions. Picard and Tallinn were on an incredibly dangerous, time-sensitive mission, with half-assimilated Borg shooting at them, yet Picard allowed himself to become distracted by this event in his past. Being thrown into the room where something bad once happened is, of course, a trigger for post-traumatic stress, and I get that. But even with that understanding and that caveat, I found myself wanting to shout at the episode in frustration that there isn’t time for this right now!

This is something that Discovery does far too often – characters bringing their own personal issues to the fore in a way that clearly interferes with the missions at hand. Picard had never had this issue – not even in Monsters when Picard’s trauma was one of the main storylines – but because of the circumstances of the Borg attack on La Sirena this time, it really did feel that Picard didn’t have the time for such indulgent reminiscing. It’s only through sheer luck that he and Tallinn survived.

Picard allowed himself to become distracted in the middle of a very dangerous situation.

Despite being a relatively long episode at almost fifty minutes, there were a few points, especially as Hide and Seek drew to a close, where I felt some important scenes may have been left on the cutting-room floor. For example, how did Rios know exactly where to transport to save Picard and Tallinn? And how did Picard know that Seven and Raffi had let La Sirena escape when he reunited with them? These questions could’ve been answered, and while they may not feel hugely substantial in terms of the way things turned out, the fact that we didn’t see everything as it unfolded left the final part of the episode feeling rather cut-down and perhaps a little contrived.

I’m glad that Dr Jurati was able to not only wrestle some control back from the Borg Queen, but also talk her down from the most extreme version of her plan. This was Hide and Seek’s emotional high point, and Alison Pill put in an outstanding performance. It was nice to welcome back Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen, too.

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen.

However, I’m left feeling that this sequence was shorter than it could’ve been, and more importantly that key characters were missing. This is the emotional crux of Dr Jurati’s story this season, and the end of the 21st Century side of the Borg’s story, at least. In a series called Star Trek: Picard, shouldn’t Picard himself have been present? He only showed up after this had happened, seemingly already aware of what had transpired even though we never saw him find out on screen.

After what Picard went through with the Borg from The Next Generation through to First Contact and Season 1 of Picard, there was scope for his inclusion here to wrap up his inner conflict with the Borg; to take the argument he expressed in The Star Gazer about wanting to hear out what the Borg had to say and going one step further. Picard could, in this moment, have come to forgive the Borg Queen and arrive at a place where he’d be willing to give her the opportunity to chart a new path and do things differently.

This sequence was undeniably well done. But it feels like Picard should’ve been involved.

In order for that to have happened, though, this episode – and realistically, much of the season leading up to it – would have needed to be structured very differently. This could even have become the “lesson” that Q had been pushing Picard to learn; that forgiving one’s greatest adversaries and giving them a chance to change is worth doing. Is that something Q might want to teach Picard? I don’t know, but it could’ve worked.

Instead it fell to Raffi, Seven of Nine, and Dr Jurati to strike a deal with the Borg Queen – and while this sequence was emotional and well-constructed, as it ended and the deal was honoured, I felt that, if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t be convinced that the Borg Queen would stick to her commitments. She basically promised, over the span of a few short minutes, that she’d entirely change her philosophy and worldview, and would build a Borg Collective based on an entirely different guiding principle. Because we’ve seen the Borg on a number of previous occasions, I think this moment needed more to be convincing.

Can we feel certain that the Borg Queen will stick to the agreement she made?

Think back to episodes in Voyager such as Scorpion and Dark Frontier. We saw the Borg’s duplicity and deceitfulness on full display in those stories, and we saw how Captain Janeway and others were absolutely correct not to trust the Borg to uphold their end of whatever deal had been struck. Although Dr Jurati felt that she had extracted a solid commitment from the Borg Queen, and I could quite see Raffi being willing to go along with it in exchange for saving Seven’s life, looking in from the outside I have a lot of reservations that Hide and Seek simply didn’t do enough to placate.

The Borg Queen got what she wanted – and everything we know about her from all of her past appearances tells us that she’s the kind of single-minded, domineering character who would say and do whatever was necessary to get the right outcome. Dr Jurati was standing in her way; appearing to concede to her proposal and saving the life of one single individual would be a negligible price to pay – from the Queen’s perspective – if it meant gaining control of La Sirena and the possibility of reuniting with the Borg Collective in the Delta Quadrant.

The Borg Queen ended up getting what she wanted – control of La Sirena.

In short, this concept was an interesting one. The idea of Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen “merging,” rather than Dr Jurati losing her entire personality, is a clever twist on the way the story could’ve gone, and one that had been set up well in Mercy last week. The broader idea of a Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid potentially taking the Borg Collective in a different and perhaps less aggressive direction is likewise a fascinating concept. But neither of these ideas, great as they are, feel complete. It’s true that there’s one more episode of the season remaining – but as the Borg Queen has now warped away in what felt like a pretty conclusive departure, and with a lot of other storylines still in play, it doesn’t seem as though Picard will be able to revisit these ideas right now.

There was potential in the idea of Dr Jurati pacifying the Borg Queen and lending her unique perspective to the Collective. There was potential in the idea of the Borg Queen listening to such a proposal and giving it some degree of consideration. And there was potential in the idea of a negotiated peace (of a sort) at the end of an episode that had these moments of battling and violence. But I don’t feel that Hide and Seek – and Season 2 as a whole – left enough time to really do justice to any of them, at least not as things currently stand.

A powerful moment as Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen discussed the fate of the Borg Collective… but it needed more.

Negotiations with the Borg Queen could’ve been an entire episode in itself – and I’d certainly be up for a story with that kind of diplomatic focus. We’ve seen Star Trek – and Jean-Luc Picard himself – do those kinds of stories exceptionally well, and it could’ve been an interesting coda to the Borg story that has been running this season. Maybe the season finale will bring more of that, but taken on its own, Hide and Seek had some clever concepts and lofty ambitions – but ultimately failed to fully deliver on them.

That isn’t to detract from some wonderfully evocative performances, though. Alison Pill deserves so much credit for the way she inhabited two very different roles in Hide and Seek, and in particular the way she managed to capture the mannerisms, style, and essence of Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen. That kind of acting challenge – playing a different character in someone else’s body – is a Star Trek trope going all the way back to The Original Series, and some actors are better at it than others! Alison Pill really managed to be convincing as the partially-assimilated Borg Queen, and the moment where she donned the iconic outfit was a special effects home run to boot.

The new Borg Queen looks down at her old body.

As mentioned, the idea of a Borg Queen-Jurati hybrid (Borgati? Jurorg?) is an interesting one, and everyone involved did their best to sell it. To me, the fact that this “negotiation” sequence was too short doesn’t negate those wonderful performances. However, the scene immediately afterward, in which Seven of Nine and Raffi agree to honour their deal felt just a little odd. One of Star Trek’s biggest ever villains just kind of… stood around on the bridge of La Sirena, and the way the ship was then turned over to her felt not only rushed, but also rather anticlimactic.

Dr Soong, who had seemed so interesting when we first met him in Fly Me To The Moon, had already lost all pretence of nuance or complexity prior to the events of Hide and Seek. Although the suitably over-the-top performance from Brent Spiner was absolutely delicious to watch – as his villainous performances always have been – I don’t really understand Dr Soong’s inclusion on this side of the story.

Dr Adam Soong.

Q wanted to shut down the Europa Mission to create the Confederation timeline, but to the Borg Queen that outcome isn’t a good one – it’s what she allied herself with Picard and came to the 21st Century to prevent. Despite the fairly weak protestation that the Borg are now “aware” of the danger the Confederation may pose, I don’t buy that she’d remain allied to Dr Soong – especially not after gaining access to several dozen goons that she partially assimilated.

I guess in that sense the Borg Queen acted out-of-character, not by allying herself to Dr Soong but by maintaining her end of the deal even after he’d served his purpose. Perhaps we could argue that it ties in with the merging of Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen; that the Queen’s personality was already showing signs of being altered. But why should the Borg Queen care about Dr Soong? And if Dr Jurati’s influence is present to excuse that contrivance… shouldn’t she be even more inclined to break their deal and stop him?

Dr Soong ultimately escaped to fight another day.

Despite a performance from Brent Spiner that I will unashamedly admit to having thoroughly enjoyed, I don’t find Dr Soong a particularly interesting villain, and when the story has to contort itself into knots to pull out contrived ways to keep him relevant and engaged, it just falls flat for me. Dr Soong may have been an interesting ally for Q, but the way in which he was included this week, and the way in which the Borg Queen stuck to her agreement with him, stretches credulity to breaking-point for me.

Jeri Ryan had some wonderfully emotional and insightful moments as Seven of Nine this week. We got to learn more of Seven’s post-Voyager history, including that she attempted to join Starfleet, but had her application denied. Seven ascribes this to her Borg past, but it raises the interesting question of why Starfleet permitted Icheb to join (as we saw in Season 1), but not her.

We got some interesting information about Seven of Nine’s life during the years in between Voyager and Picard.

Seven’s story this season has now come full-circle, and she’s regained her Borg implants and appearance thanks to the deal Raffi and Dr Jurati struck with the Borg Queen. It’s sad for Seven, who had been enjoying her newfound appearance, to be forced back to the way she had previously been. However, after what she’s been through over the past few episodes, perhaps Seven has reached a place where she can accept herself, despite what she sees as imperfections. There’s a metaphor there, perhaps, albeit one that’s buried quite deeply in the story.

I felt that there was the potential for this new presentation of Seven of Nine to have carried forward, and although it’s perhaps early days to be thinking about spin-offs and future Star Trek projects, one centred around Raffi and Seven of Nine would certainly find supporters! But if Seven of Nine isn’t going to be a huge part of the series in future – and spoiler alert for Season 3 if you missed the announcement, but with the main cast of The Next Generation set to reprise their roles next time around, there may not be as much of a place for her – then her story this season has a cyclical feel to it; she returns to where she began, albeit having been changed somewhat by the experience.

Has Seven’s story come full-circle?

Raffi got two very powerful emotional moments this week, and Michelle Hurd gave her best performance of the season to bring them to screen wonderfully. Dealing with the fatally-wounded Seven of Nine was the latter of the two, and I really felt the pain that she went through in that moment. But the more powerful moment had come a few minutes earlier as Raffi came face-to-face with the “ghost” of Elnor.

It wasn’t exactly made clear how the holographic version of Elnor worked, nor how it came to have the memories of his last moments, and that was something that could’ve been technobabbled a bit better. Again, we’re feeling the constraints of an episode – and a season – that has to make cuts and creative choices in order to fit into a limited timeslot. However, setting that minor gripe aside, the conversation between the two of them was one of the episode’s emotional highlights.

Raffi was able to get closure for Elnor’s death.

Both Michelle Hurd and Evan Evagora excelled as holo-Elnor provided Raffi with the closure and forgiveness that she needed, and the moment was sad but beautiful. Elnor’s death has been one of the things driving Raffi this season, and it felt for a time as if it was something that could be reversed. Raffi now seems ready to accept Elnor’s passing, however, and I think that’s a signal to us as the audience that Elnor’s death is indeed going to be permanent.

On this point – if indeed it comes to pass – I’m not so sure that Picard got it right. Spoiler alert again for Season 3, but as a point of practicality given the return of the main characters from The Next Generation, I can understand why the show is doing everything it can to shuffle its current crop of main characters out of the way. But as I said when that decision was announced, that in itself is something I have mixed feelings about, and Elnor in particular is a character that I feel we never really got the chance to know very well. Aside from his spotlight episode in Season 1 – Absolute Candor – Elnor’s impact on the story of both seasons has been, at best, limited. The decision to enrol him in Starfleet Academy and to give him a new parental figure in Raffi worked well, especially in light of the beautiful scene where Raffi comforted him at the end of Season 1. But there’s so much potential in a young character like Elnor – the first Romulan in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, characters like him need to stick around.

Is this the end of the road for Elnor?

Despite my great dislike of Rios’ story this season, and the way in which he has regressed as a character from the season premiere, his role in Hide and Seek was largely inoffensive. For the first time I felt that Picard genuinely cared about Rios – he told Tallinn to turn off the transporter to prevent Rios from returning to the battle after he was injured. If I was being cruel I might say that moment felt unearned given the lack of interaction between Rios and Picard for practically the entire season, but we know Picard as a character well enough to know that he does truly care about those under his command.

The Rios-Teresa romance progressed, getting him to a place where he was one transporter beam (or transporter puff) away from saying “I love you” to her. I had wondered, prior to Hide and Seek, if Rios was being groomed for an heroic death. That still could happen in the season finale, but the developing romance with Teresa, combined with Seven’s return to her Borg status, now has me wondering if Rios will choose to stay in 2024 if and when the moment comes to go home. Teresa seemed to be pushing him in that direction this week.

Rios told Teresa he had to go and save the future.

Having talked about everyone present in Hide and Seek, we now turn to one significant absence: Q. Q has been the season’s driving force, seemingly setting up the Confederation timeline and thus also the trip to the 21st Century. But as the story reaches what should be its endgame, Q was once again absent. There’s now just one episode left not only to put a stop to the next phase of Q’s plan, but also to explain what drove him to do all of this in the first place.

As mentioned, it might’ve been possible for Q to be included here – to say that one of his plans or part of his plan was to see how Picard would react to the merging of the Borg Queen with one of his friends. Though a story about mercy, forgiveness, and a willingness to move beyond animosity wouldn’t be as grand in scale as something like learning to perceive time in a non-linear way – as happened in All Good Things at the end of The Next Generation – in another way it’s kind of in line with what Q tried to show Picard in the episode Tapestry. In that story, Q showed Picard an alternate life that he might’ve led, and guided Picard through events in his past that led him to become the person he is. In this story, Q might’ve been showing Picard, in a similar way, that he can grow and learn to let go of the anger, hate, and fear he has toward the Borg and the Borg Queen.

All of this might’ve been part of Q’s grand plan.

But that doesn’t seem to be what this story is trying to say. With Q entirely absent from Hide and Seek, there isn’t much time left to wrap up his story and provide a satisfactory explanation not only for Q’s behaviour, but in a broader sense for the entire story of the season. Why Q did whatever he did, and what his goals and objectives are, are still concealed by the plot – and if they aren’t given a proper moment in the spotlight next week the entire season could fall apart.

As much as I enjoyed a tense story about a battle against modern-day semi-Borg, and as great as those emotional moments were with Raffi, Elnor, Seven, and Dr Jurati, Hide and Seek feels like it has a gaping hole due to the absence of Q. With Q’s henchman Dr Soong still at large and also needing to be stopped, and the Europa Mission still to save, the season finale has been left with a lot of work to do and a lot of story to wrap up – and that’s before we even consider getting Picard, Seven, Rios, and Raffi back to the 25th Century.

The eerie green glow of Borg transporter beams.

Hide and Seek raises a lot of questions – not least of which has to be what will become of the Borg if the new Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid makes good on her promise to effectively restructure the entire Collective and implement a wholly new guiding philosophy. If such a change to the Borg were to happen in the 21st or 22nd Centuries, that could be transformative for the entire prime timeline. Guinan’s people may never have been attacked, Picard may never have been assimilated, the events of The Best of Both Worlds and First Contact may be erased, Captain Janeway’s run-ins with the Borg may have been averted or turned out completely differently, Seven of Nine may never have been assimilated… heck, even Captain Sisko would be affected, with his wife never dying at the Battle of Wolf 359. If Picard and the crew set out to preserve the timeline, then changing more the three centuries’ worth of Borg history means that they very definitely failed!

Setting those implications to one side for now, I think we’ll have to return to Hide and Seek when the season is over and reassess how some of these story points are ultimately borne out. There’s potential for some of them to become better in light of a successful finale – and likewise there’s the potential for some of them to seem disappointing if the season doesn’t wrap up in a neat way.

La Sirena takes flight.

So that was Hide and Seek. A complicated episode, all things considered, with some significant weaknesses and flaws, but one that managed to be exciting and action-packed with a focus on the Borg that I did appreciate.

The Star Trek franchise continues to try some very different ideas, but not all of them stick the landing. The mental health side of storytelling, not just in Hide and Seek, nor even just in Picard Season 2, but in a much broader sense across the franchise, remains an area of concern and disappointment. Star Trek can do mental health stories well, but the producers have to allow enough time to really do justice to big and complex topics. For me at least, Hide and Seek didn’t succeed at that.

I’m anxiously awaiting the season finale. Having seemingly concluded one of its big storylines – at least the part set in the 21st Century – Picard has left itself with two villains to defeat, a mission to save, a cryptic message about “two Renées” to explain, a return to the 25th Century to facilitate, potentially two love stories to bring closure to, and finding a way to connect the events of the past eight episodes to what we saw in the season premiere. There’s a lot of work to do… and I really hope that the season finale will be up to the task.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 8: Mercy

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, First Contact, and Voyager.

Picard Season 2 certainly has enjoyed its episode-ending mini-cliffhangers! I think we’ve had one in every episode now, and last week’s outing, Monsters, ended with Picard and Guinan being apprehended by the FBI. This led to an episode that felt like the season’s second detour in a row, one which dedicated a lot of its runtime to a new character, his background, and a run-in with Vulcans decades in the past.

Agent Wells may yet have a larger role to play, but with only two episodes remaining in the season, it feels like there’s a heck of a lot of story to get through. Mercy made some progress to that end, but it also got bogged down in places, and I feel like the writers aren’t always aware of the time constraints that a ten-episode season has placed on them. The last thing I want, as the season reaches what should be its climax, is for there to be a repeat of the Season 1 situation. At least in that regard we can say that most of the characters and storylines are now in play… but some feel a long way from being wrapped up.

Picard in Mercy.

I didn’t dislike Mercy, though, all things considered. Unlike in Monsters, where the time spent with a comatose Picard felt padded at best, there was purpose to (most) of the story threads weaved in this week’s outing. And if you’ve been keeping up with my reviews this season, you’ll know that I’ve been saying for several episodes now that I wanted Picard to refocus its energies around the Borg Queen story: well, wish granted! Mercy spent much more time on what I consider to be the season’s more interesting story – and one that feels closer to Star Trek’s high-tech 25th Century.

One question I have that feels unexplained right now is how Dr Adam Soong finds himself with such resources at his disposal. As the episode drew to a close he spoke on the phone with someone identified as a “general,” and was able to hire a private military company to assist in the Borg Queen’s mission to capture La Sirena (something I’d been predicting she’d do for a couple of weeks!) But where has Dr Soong found the ability to do something like that?

Where did Dr Soong get the resources and connections to hire a private military company?

When we met Dr Soong in Fly Me To The Moon, he had been expelled from the scientific community, his licenses had been revoked, and he seemed to have lost everything. He still has a fancy house, so clearly he’s someone of financial means, but that shouldn’t allow him to just call up a general and buy mercenaries, no questions asked. I should’ve posed this question a couple of weeks ago when we encountered Dr Soong at the astronauts’ gala – how had he managed to buy his way onto the board of the Europa Mission when he’d been kicked out of the scientific community for his illegal and unethical research?

I doubt it’s a question that Picard has an answer for, and it’s a contrivance that we’ll probably just have to overlook. Still, given the way Dr Soong appeared during his encounter with the board and the consequences he suffered as a result of his work, it feels odd – and more than a little convenient for the sake of the story – that he’s someone with the resources and connections to be of use to both Q and the Borg Queen.

Dr Adam Soong.

One neat inclusion on this side of the story seems to explain why the people from the Confederation timeline that we saw in Penance venerate and celebrate Dr Soong so long after his death. The planetary shield that was keeping Confederation Earth on “life-support” seems to be one of Dr Soong’s most significant inventions – and we saw a smaller-scale version of this technology a couple of episodes ago. Drones that Dr Soong controlled put up a kind of shield to protect Kore from the sun – and it seems like he upscaled that technology to protect Earth from an “ecological collapse.”

The Borg Queen was able to very effectively manipulate Dr Soong, using his desire to have a legacy to leverage him to work for her. She must have something planned, though, because remember in the Confederation timeline the Borg had been wiped out. Establishing that timeline is categorically not in the Borg Queen’s interest – and indeed preventing it from happening is why she agreed to assist Picard in the first place. So Dr Soong is clearly in a lot of danger!

The Borg Queen continues to assimilate Dr Jurati.

Sticking with the Soongs, I’m really hoping that Kore has some unknown role yet to play, because right now she feels like fluff; an extraneous character who’s just here to give Isa Briones something to do in Soji’s absence. Kore may exist solely to inform aspects of Dr Soong’s character, but spending time with a fairly one-dimensional character like that doesn’t add a great deal to the story of the season overall. Her story this week continued to be incredibly repetitive, paralleling Soji and Dahj’s stories in Season 1. Kore pressed her father about her artificial origins – a genetic experiment, in this case, as opposed to being a synth – in a way that was very reminiscent of Soji learning her own backstory in the Season 1 episode The Impossible Box.

Even if characters like Kore and Agent Wells have roles to play in the next couple of episodes, I’d still argue that we probably spent too much time focusing on them this week. These are brand-new characters (albeit that one is played by a main cast member) and we just don’t have the same investment in their stories as we do in those of Picard, Raffi, Seven, Rios, and Dr Jurati. There was scope, perhaps, to cut down some of these sequences and spend more time with the main characters.

Kore Soong.

Having dedicated a lot of words to the presentation of Rios in my previous couple of reviews, I’ll try to avoid being too repetitive here. Suffice to say that Rios’ regression shows no sign of letting up, and the romantic sub-plot he’s now in with Teresa actually amplifies the sad decline in his characterisation compared with where he was at the beginning of the season. As with Kore being created to give Isa Briones something to do, I feel like the writers have invented these moments for Rios out of nowhere, dragging him backwards in terms of what could’ve been a satisfying character arc while simultaneously leaving him pretty disconnected from the rest of the story.

Think about this: when was the last time Rios said two words to Picard? Aside from a very brief conversation with Raffi when the gang infiltrated the astronauts’ gala, when was the last time he spoke to her, either? Or to anyone other than Teresa, come to that? Rios got one significant moment this week, as he identified a problem with La Sirena’s transporter that has a bearing on the stories involving Raffi, Seven, and the Borg Queen. But that moment wasn’t necessarily a “Rios” moment; it could’ve been anyone who discovered the Borg code in the system.

Rios working on La Sirena’s transporter.

As speculated in my last theory post, I wonder if Rios is being set up for an heroic death sometime before the end of the season. Skip this paragraph if you’re concerned about Season 3 spoilers, but after Paramount announced that the main cast of The Next Generation would be coming on board for Picard Season 3 in a big way, it’s not at all clear what that means for the current crop of characters. With Elnor already gone and Soji sidelined, killing off Rios and perhaps the Borg Queen in Dr Jurati’s body would only leave Seven of Nine and Raffi heading into Season 3, and that feels like it could be a more manageable number of characters for another ten-episode outing.

In short, Rios may be drawing the short straw here. His story of being detained and deported was a timely one that shone a light on America’s problem with immigration and the way migrants are handled, and as a Hispanic man, Rios clearly fit the bill for that story from the writers’ point of view. But when that story ended, Rios felt listless. Cut loose by the series and serving a pretty minor role in terms of the main story, his side-story with Teresa could be an attempt to give emotional weight to Rios’ potential death. By showing us his love for Teresa – and thus presumably her reaction to his death – Picard may be trying to score some added emotional points when the moment finally comes.

Rios with Teresa aboard La Sirena.

We learned some really interesting details about the Borg in an understated way thanks to Seven of Nine and Dr Jurati. Mercy may go on to be an important episode that future Borg stories can call back to, and as a Trekkie I’m always fascinated by the minutia of how things like Borg assimilation actually work! In the case of a normal Borg drone, they’re able to assimilate someone by forcing nanoprobes into their body. The nanoprobes bring with them the metals and materials needed to self-replicate, and it sounds as if this process has been honed by the Borg over a long period of time. The process relies on high-quality materials that the Borg must produce or refine somehow.

Without any nanoprobes of her own, or with a very limited number, the Borg Queen inhabiting Dr Jurati’s body must acquire the raw materials to construct more – and this is where the idea of taking lithium from batteries came into play in one of the series’ most disturbing sequences to date! The striking visual presentation of Dr Jurati with the wrecked cars drew on things like zombie fiction in a really tense and horrifying way.

This was an incredibly shocking way to see Dr Jurati, and it felt like it was inspired by zombie films.

I love everything about this side of the story. The concept that the Borg Queen needs to acquire resources, the way in which she’s going about it, the fact that the 21st Century doesn’t really provide her with what she needs… all of this works so incredibly well. In addition to exploring more about Borg technology and Borg assimilation, which would be fascinating in its own right, the story that’s unfolding is engrossing and exciting.

After several episodes in which this side of the story felt like an afterthought, giving it a proper moment in the spotlight felt cathartic. This is the kind of storytelling I’ve been wanting ever since Season 2 took us on this mission back in time, and while it’s come pretty late in the game and in an episode that had those other less interesting elements, I’m glad we finally got to see more from the Borg Queen.

Newly-created Borg nanoprobes.

Seven of Nine was at her best on this side of the story, showing off an emotional and vulnerable reaction to being face-to-face, once again, with the Borg. Her confrontation with the partially-assimilated Dr Jurati clearly brought back bad memories, and led to a minor conflict with Raffi – understandably so, perhaps, but I’m glad it was resolved and didn’t descend into a major relationship drama!

One of the best things that Picard has done has been to give Seven of Nine some much-needed character development, and seeing her reacting like this – in a very human, emotional way – is further evidence of that wonderful arc. I said when Seven was reintroduced in Season 1 that she’d become one of my least-favourite Voyager characters toward the end of that show’s run, and the reason for that was how boring and repetitive she was (combined, perhaps, with the fact that she was overused by the show’s writers). Seven would learn some lesson in “how to be human” one week, then forget it all by the next episode, leaving her feeling static and undeveloped. Picard has completely reworked her character in a way that feels natural; that she’s made genuine and lasting progress since the events of Voyager, now twenty-five years in her past.

Seven of Nine in Mercy.

This progression of Seven’s arc has been shown in a new light by bringing her back into conflict with the Borg. The decision to remove her Borg implants for Season 2 – including, as she noted this week, internal implants that aren’t seen – has added to this new, more human presentation. Coming face-to-face with the Borg again is already proving to be traumatic for her, bringing up awful memories that she can’t escape.

We saw this in Season 1 with Picard himself, particularly in the episode The Impossible Box when he boarded the Artifact. But rather than feeling like a redux of that story, Seven’s feels unique. The way she reacts, as someone who had been assimilated at a much younger age and who remained a member of the Borg Collective for much longer, is completely different to the very visceral reaction that Picard had. Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd played off one another perfectly during these sequences, processing Seven’s trauma while also trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Raffi and Seven of Nine tracked Dr Jurati to a car park.

Speaking of trauma, Seven isn’t the only one dealing with it. Raffi is also coming to terms with Elnor’s death, and while she had been hoping that restoring the timeline might save his life, I think we got another significant hint here that that isn’t going to happen. In a flashback sequence we saw how Raffi had persuaded Elnor to remain at Starfleet Academy instead of returning to Vashti, “manipulating” him, to use her and Seven’s words. This is making her feel even more responsible for Elnor’s death.

Coming to terms with trauma can require someone to confront unpleasant truths about themselves, and while I wouldn’t say what Raffi did with Elnor was excessive or horribly manipulative, she recoginises that the way she reacted to him – and the way she treats others in her life, including Seven – can come across that way. Her desire to get the right outcome for herself can be overriding, and she knows just what to say to people to get them to do what she wants. I’m not sure what the series plans to do with this revelation, but if Raffi sticks around going into Season 3, perhaps it’ll be something she consciously tries to work on.

Raffi with Elnor in the flashback.

We got confirmation of a theory that emerged as far back as Penance: there’s something wrong with Q. Q believes that he’s dying, as evidenced by his declining powers, and although he seemed somewhat accepting of it at first, he’s clearly rattled and unsure of what’s happening to him. We have no indication right now of what might’ve caused Q’s declining health – nor how far Picard may be involved. After several episodes in which this has been teased, going all the way back to the second episode of the season, I really hope we get a proper and thorough explanation for why Q is dying (or for whatever else might be happening to him) before the story concludes.

One line from Q was particularly interesting: he told Guinan that: “the trap is immaterial; it’s the escape that counts.” To me, that feels like it embodies Q’s entire philosophy, at least insofar as his dealings with Picard are concerned. He sets puzzles not for their own sake, but to see how Picard will react and respond. He judges those reactions, as we saw throughout The Next Generation, but he also possesses a curiosity – he genuinely doesn’t know what Picard will do, and he wants to see it for himself. In that sense, Q is almost, in his own very twisted way, studying Picard and humanity.

Guinan and Q talked in the FBI office.

There were other interesting snippets from Q’s conversation with Guinan. The idea of a “temporal horizon” being part of how members of the Q Continuum perceive the universe is a neat concept, helping to visualise for us as the audience something that’s fundamentally difficult to grasp. Q experiences time in some kind of linear fashion, even though he’s able to travel to different eras at will. His own personal past is still in the past, and he has a future – except that his future is now something he cannot see or perceive. It’s a complex thing to wrap one’s head around, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve fully understood it nor successfully communicated my interpretation of it! But suffice to say that I think we have a better understanding of the Q Continuum after Mercy.

One word that Q used almost passed by unnoticed: “redeem.” Does Q believe that what he’s doing right now is some kind of redemption for himself? If so, is the “penance” he told Picard about earlier in the season part of some kind of punishment he’s inflicting not upon Picard, but upon himself? How would showing Picard a warped, broken timeline redeem Q? And, come to that, what is he seeking redemption from? There are a lot of unanswered questions!

What could Q be seeking redemption from?

As Q showed Guinan the extent of his failing powers, it raised a question that I’d been contemplating since before the season aired (and that has been part of my theory list). Is Q truly responsible for breaking the timeline in the first place? Picard assumed so when Q first reappeared, but as he seems to be losing his powers, it seems plausible to suggest that making such a dramatic change is no longer something that Q is capable of.

In addition to all of that, we have the question of cause-and-effect. When Q emerged at the end of The Star Gazer, the damage to the timeline had already been done. Yet recent episodes have shown us Q running around in the 21st Century seemingly trying to enact the change to the timeline that Picard hopes to prevent. In The Star Gazer and Penance, Q seemed to be in full possession of his powers, even changing his appearance. But if those events happened after what we’re seeing now, from Q’s perspective, does that mean he got better? Or did he somehow break the timeline, travel back in time to continue to observe Picard, and then start to lose his powers? My head hurts!

Are we seeing Q before or after the events of The Star Gazer?

Picard and Guinan’s interrogation by Agent Wells was interesting, but as stated above I think it ran a little too long and took us on a bit of a detour. If Agent Wells comes back and has a significant moment later in the season, maybe that will be excusable; just one part of an evolving and developing story. But if this is to be his sole appearance, it’s certainly an odd choice for the season to have dedicated so much time to his character and backstory. The entire “apprehended by the FBI” story thread could’ve been cut out, with Picard and possibly Guinan joining the hunt for Dr Jurati instead. We’ll have to wait and see what comes next before passing judgement.

One storyline that the FBI interrogation successfully wrapped up was Rios’ missing combadge. This had fallen by the wayside in recent episodes, and after the point of divergence in the timeline was revealed to be the Europa Mission, its potential importance slipped away. It came back this week in an interesting way, but ultimately this was little more than a bluff and a tease – not only from Agent Wells to Picard, but from the show’s writers to us as the audience! The combadge could’ve ended up as a “butterfly,” with its unknown impact rippling along the timeline. As it is, Agent Wells gave it back to Picard and it can once again disappear from the plot.

Agent Wells interrogating Picard.

The Vulcan sub-plot was interesting, and certainly served to give motivation to Agent Wells as he pursued Picard, Guinan, and all things alien. It also led to a moment with Picard that one again highlighted his calm, diplomatic style, and that’s something I’ll never tire of seeing! However, if there was supposed to be a connection with the Enterprise episode Carbon Creek, which saw Vulcans on Earth in the 1950s, it wasn’t particularly well-established by the short flashback sequence that we got.

More could’ve been done to show what the Vulcans were doing on Earth, or even to establish that young Agent Wells was in the town of Carbon Creek, for instance. That would’ve been a fun easter egg to long-time fans. As it is, the connection is more implicit than explicit – which is fine, I guess! But in a story about time travel that hasn’t had many opportunities to connect to the wider franchise (aside from a few references to The Voyage Home and Past Tense) this kind of feels like a missed opportunity to make a solid connection.

A pair of Vulcans on Earth sometime in the 1960s-1970s.

Storylines in which the hero is apprehended by the authorities while on a time-sensitive mission can be irritating for me. I can find myself feeling frustrated and wanting to shout at the show or film to “just get on with it!” But to Mercy’s credit, that didn’t really happen this time around. The episode was entertaining, and even though the FBI interrogation sequences weren’t the highlight, they were well-paced and inoffensive enough. My hope now is that there’ll be some bigger point to all of it – something to tie together Picard, the Borg Queen, Q, and the rest of the characters and storylines currently in play.

So that was Mercy. We got some significant development of key storylines, but those developments have come pretty late in the season – and there’s still a lot of work to do if we’re to see everything neatly wrapped up in just two weeks’ time. I’m hopeful that Picard has an ace up its sleeve – possibly even a season-ending cliffhanger – that will make the detours and side-stories feel worthwhile rather than like fluff.

What I will say in praise of Mercy – and of the show’s writing as a whole – is that the end of the season feels far from formulaic. I can’t tell what’s going to happen next, nor what the ultimate destination of this story is. Several characters feel in imminent danger – Q, Rios, Dr Jurati, Dr Soong, and even Seven of Nine and Raffi. But what will come next for any of them is still up in the air. The only thing we know for certain right now is that the Borg Queen plans to make a move on La Sirena. Rios is aware of that, but with Picard and the others stuck half a world away, will they be able to get there in time? I have no idea… and after more than thirty years as a fan, I love that Star Trek can still take me on a rollercoaster ride that goes in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 7: Monsters

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationVoyagerFirst Contact, and Discovery.

I found Monsters to be a frustrating experience – with the odd moment of sheer brilliance. While the story edged along in incremental steps, overall this side-mission inside Picard’s mind seemed to drag just a little too long. That being said, when the amateur Freudian psychoanalysis let up, we got some interesting moments with Seven of Nine and Raffi as they hunted for Dr Jurati, and from Picard and Guinan as the episode drew to a close.

Despite having mixed feelings about the season overall – particularly its time travel story – some of the promotional images released for Monsters looked intriguing, so after a couple of weeks where I’d been uninterested to the point of near-apathy in Picard, this time around I managed to work up some excitement and interest for the latest outing. To summarise, I guess I’d say that Monsters didn’t deliver what I’d hoped for, and the show’s 21st Century setting continues to be a drag, but there were some genuinely insightful and interesting moments, especially as the episode neared its end.

The final few minutes of the episode were the best.

As last week’s episode drew to a close, I felt that there was potential in a story that explored some of Picard’s psyche, and that seemed to be borne out by a couple of the promotional images released before the episode aired. These pictures showed Picard sitting aboard a 24th Century vessel, meeting with a new character who was wearing what looked like a new Starfleet uniform variant. Based on those pictures and that setup, I was hopeful that a season which has been content to stay in the modern-day for the most part might actually show us a little more of Star Trek’s future – the part that I find a thousand times more interesting, exciting, and inspiring.

Unfortunately we didn’t really get any of that – at least, not in the way I had hoped. We returned to the château of Picard’s childhood, and spent a lot of time running around in the dungeons while monsters from low-budget horror films chased after Picard, his mother, and later Tallinn. I think the problem with this story is more fundamental than just its B-movie horror aesthetic, though. If a decision is made to psychoanalyse a character in this fashion, diving deeply into their subconscious mind and buried memories, by the time we reach the end we should feel like we learned something – anything, really – that could inform and educate us about why the character behaves a certain way or has a particular personality trait. We came to the end of this coma-dream with Picard awakening… and I don’t feel like I understand him any better than I did before watching this entire drawn-out storyline.

Tallinn was attacked by one of the B-movie monsters.

We’ve spent a lot of time with Picard over the past thirty-five years, and in that time we’ve seen him go through many significant and traumatic events. There are more things from his past that we’ve only heard about in passing; lines of dialogue in The Next Generation that informed a story or gave us a tidbit of information about the man and his personal history. This episode, and the framework it used, could have explored any of those. Just off the top of my head, we could’ve seen Picard wrangle with the death of Jack Crusher – husband of Beverly Crusher – during his time in command of the Stargazer. We could’ve seen him dealing with the trauma of Tasha Yar’s death, or the loss of his family in a fire at the château that we heard about in Generations.

Instead, Monsters chose to introduce a wholly new backstory element to Picard’s character, giving him a moment in his youth in which he was traumatised by being trapped in the passageways below his family’s château, as well as his mother’s mental health condition. I can deal with the fact that this seems to clash with depictions of Picard’s mother in The Next Generation; the two shows are very different, and while there’s definitely a major difference in tone, there’s nothing that stands out to me as being wholly contradictory. But what I find difficult to get on board with is the fact that this entire sequence feels meaningless to the story overall – we didn’t learn anything significant about Picard, nor did we unlock anything that might be key to understanding the story of the season.

A faded memory from Picard’s youth.

I don’t recall it ever being mentioned prior to Monsters that Picard had a fear of confined spaces. I can recall many occasions in the past where we’d seen him in the Jeffries’ tubes, for example, and that never seemed to bother him. If it had been mentioned even an episode or two ago we could’ve at least said that Season 2 was trying to set it up, but even that didn’t happen, so I find it being brought up here particularly odd. Not only that, but this supposed claustrophobia didn’t even feature in a big way in the story at all – there was no moment where Picard was in a confined space either in reality, in his mind, nor in his memories. The dungeon was certainly a frightening place, but young Picard seemed to be trapped in a pretty large room.

Obviously trauma and the development of phobias is a more complicated thing than that, and I get that. But even so, this attempt to depict Picard’s supposed trauma feels weak. More importantly, though, it doesn’t seem to have accomplished much of anything, certainly not enough to justify producing an entire episode dedicated to it.

Picard and Tallinn inside his subconscious mind.

Star Trek: Picard promised to show us the beloved character in his later years, going on new adventures with a new crew but still fundamentally the same man we remembered from his debut thirty-five years ago. There was scope in a story about memory and digging into someone’s trauma and psyche to draw on something from Star Trek’s past – either something that was underdeveloped during The Next Generation era or something merely referenced – to flesh out some unknown or unseen part of Picard’s character. This episode took that open goal and missed it by a country mile by telling a disconnected and just plain odd story that feels functionally and narratively irrelevant. A ten-episode series can’t afford to waste time – something Picard learned to its cost in Season 1 – so Monsters feels not only like a disappointment, but an episode that could potentially be a weight around the neck of the entire season.

When I deconstructed the failings of Et in Arcadia Ego (the two-part Season 1 finale) a few weeks ago, I concluded by saying that I hoped the lessons of that rushed pair of episodes had been learned. Whole storylines ran out of road, characters disappeared, new factions came and went in the blink of an eye, and narrative threads that could’ve been weaved together had there been more time ended the season just dangling, unresolved. With three episodes remaining in Season 2 to resolve this new story, I feel a sense of anxiety. The past three episodes essentially revolved around the astronauts’ party and its aftermath, without much input from Q or significant progression of the season’s main story arcs. There isn’t a lot of time to get back on track – especially if we get any more short episodes like the half-hour Two of One last week.

We’ve spent a significant chunk of the season’s runtime dealing with Picard’s comatose mind.

To return to the dungeon and the monsters, when this storyline kicked off with young Picard and his mother, it seemed like it had potential. As someone with mental heath issues myself, I briefly felt some of what I’ve experienced being reflected in the depiction of Yvette Picard. There was scope to expand upon this – and perhaps a future episode will tell us more about her nameless condition. Unfortunately, though, what we got in Monsters may have began in a relatable way – so much so that, for a brief moment, it felt uncomfortably close to my own personal experience – but it quickly descended into pantomime and farce.

Mental health conditions are not easy to depict in fiction. It takes time, it needs a nuanced portrayal, and it requires a creative team who all understand the condition in question and what the purpose of its depiction is. Yvette’s condition wasn’t shown for its own sake, and wasn’t even trying to be a sensitive or sympathetic depiction of whatever unnamed condition she suffered from. It existed purely to attempt to inform us as the audience about the trauma Picard himself feels from those events, and that already relegates it to a kind of secondary status that perhaps was always going to prevent a nuanced or at least decent attempt to portray it.

Yvette Picard’s mental health condition was basically a backdrop for other parts of the story.

The Star Trek franchise hasn’t always dealt with mental health particularly well. I noted as recently as Season 1 of Picard how the franchise can lean into unhelpful one-dimensional stereotypes, and Yvette feels barely a step ahead of that. The decision to include hallucinatory elements was potentially an interesting one – but to then turn around and make those hallucinations B-movie horror monsters rendered any impact it could’ve had utterly meaningless.

I’ve tried to be an advocate for better depictions of mental health in fiction, but more than once I’ve found myself exasperatedly saying that if a story can’t get it right – or at least make an effort to do better with the way mental health is depicted – then maybe it’s preferable to leave it alone. If there isn’t time in a series like Picard – which understandably has its focuses elsewhere – to show Yvette’s mental health condition in more detail and more sympathetically, then maybe this angle shouldn’t be included. With a few rewrites, the story could get to the same place while skipping over a pretty uninspired and occasionally problematic one-dimensional depiction of an unnamed but somewhat stereotypical “mental illness.” Otherwise it feels like the series is paying lip service to an important subject; touching on it in the most basic and meaningless of ways.

The nature of Yvette’s condition wasn’t revealed or explained.

So what was this story trying to say? That Picard’s desire to explore strange, new worlds is connected to trauma related to his mother? That seems incredibly clichéd and basic, even by the generally poor standards of mental health stories that we’ve just been talking about. I want to believe that this story has more to give; some twist or turn that will pull out a passable ending to a narrative thread that will otherwise be disappointing in the extreme. I’ve jumped the gun before with these kinds of things and been too quick to criticise, so I guess we need to wait and see what comes next. On its own merits, though, this part of Monsters – the part that took up the majority of the episode’s runtime – was poor.

There was a glimpse of something better (or at least something different) at the close of the episode. Picard visited Guinan’s bar to try to “summon” Q (or another member of the Q Continuum, this wasn’t 100% clear). I liked that we got callbacks to past iterations of Star Trek; Guinan’s “claw” pose that we saw in Q Who made a comeback, for example. And this part of the story filled in a blank from all the way back in The Next Generation’s second season, potentially explaining the animosity between Guinan and Q, or at least the El-Aurians and the Q Continuum.

We learned a little about the relationship between the El-Aurians and the Q Continuum this week.

This is the kind of thing I’d hoped Picard Season 2 would do more of. Season 1 had a fairly narrow focus on the Romulans and synths, and while we got a deeper dive into one aspect of Romulan culture in particular, there was a lot more that the last season could’ve done to connect its narrative threads to Star Trek’s broader canon. Because of how it quickly stepped out of the prime timeline and then shot back in time, Season 2 hasn’t really had much of an opportunity to do this, and when elements from Star Trek’s past have been introduced they haven’t really been explored or fleshed out in a substantial way; take Tallinn and the mysterious organisation she works for as a case in point. So I greatly appreciated the Guinan-Q connection here.

Picard and Guinan being apprehended may yet have a deeper significance to the story – if the “FBI Agent” isn’t who he claims to be, for example. Stay tuned for my theory post for more on that! But if it really is the FBI and 21st Century Earth authorities, I’m actually kind of glad that the story went down this road! Picard and the crew, despite their best intentions, have made a lot of noise since arriving in the 21st Century – so it makes perfect sense that, in the highly-surveilled world of 2024, the authorities would be attempting to track them.

Agent Wells, FBI.

We got several cute moments this week with Seven of Nine and Raffi. Their relationship, which had been teased at the end of Season 1, hadn’t developed as much as I’d hoped or expected this season, and with Seven being sidelined for the entirety of last week’s outing, I’m glad that the show’s writers haven’t entirely forgotten about this angle. We caught snippets of their conversation aboard La Sirena that suggested that their relationship is built on solid foundations, even if they don’t always have time to acknowledge it to each other, and I think in a busy episode with a lot of storylines on the go, I can accept such moments of exposition.

What I would say, though, is that we’re really feeling the impact of modern Star Trek’s shorter seasons, and I noticed that in particular with Seven and Raffi this week. After they returned to La Sirena, tracking down Dr Jurati, figuring out how the Borg code got into the ship’s computers, and coming up with a plan to counteract it and figure out what happened could’ve been an entire episode in itself during The Next Generation and Voyager eras. As it is, we got a couple of lines of dialogue and a cut-down sequence. That isn’t bad, but it’s definitely something that could’ve been expanded upon.

Raffi and Seven of Nine discovered that Dr Jurati has been assimilated.

Rios now officially irks me. His regression from the Starfleet captain we were reintroduced to in The Star Gazer to the Han Solo-inspired rogue that we met at the beginning of Season 1 had been bugging me all season long, but now it feels like there isn’t time to do anything about it. If we hadn’t seen Rios in such a different – and arguably better – state in The Star Gazer, I guess I’d just roll with his storyline. But because we’d got a glimpse of Rios at his best and seen what he can be, this Season 1 presentation feels wrong. The fact that he doesn’t seem to care at all about the ship and crew he left behind (on the brink of self-destruction and death, no less) is the icing on a particularly unpleasant cake.

One of Rios’ lines this week also felt unearned. He referred to Picard as a “father figure” that he had been seeking, but I just don’t feel that from Rios in any way. I can’t actually remember a significant moment that the two characters have shared in either season of the show, aside perhaps from Picard’s remark all the way back in Season 1 that Rios kept his ship to Starfleet standards. They’ve just been on different narrative trajectories, and while they seem quite happy to work together, I’ve never felt that Rios saw Picard that way.

Rios told Teresa how he feels about Picard.

“Show don’t tell” is the advice that creative writing teachers often give their students; show the audience how a character feels, what they’re thinking, etc. through their actions and behaviour, don’t just try to dump clumsy lines of expository dialogue and assume that’s good enough. And that’s basically the Rios situation. I’d seen nothing from him to make me feel he saw Picard as a father figure, so this line of dialogue didn’t land in the way it should’ve.

One of Rios’ lines this week was pitch-perfect, though, and continues a season-long trend of making references to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. When Teresa was figuring out the truth about who Rios is, we got a riff on the lines spoken by Dr Gillian Taylor and Captain Kirk in that film when Rios told her that he’s from Chile, but works in outer space. It was an incredibly neat reference, and I genuinely wasn’t expecting to see The Voyage Home called back to in so many different and unexpected ways this season.

Rios probably got the episode’s best line while speaking to Teresa.

Was Rios right to tell Teresa the truth? And then, having done so, was taking her and Ricardo to La Sirena a good idea? Part of me feels that Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century with him – as Kirk did with Gillian Taylor – so stay tuned for my theory update for my thoughts on that! Regardless of whether it was a smart idea, the moment where Teresa materialised on La Sirena’s transporter pad was pitch-perfect, and Sol Rodriguez captured that moment wonderfully.

Dr Jurati was only glimpsed this week, but the Borg Queen’s influence is clearly growing. The “endorphin rush” concept is an interesting one, with the Borg Queen needing to trigger endorphins in order to speed up or help the assimilation process. I certainly hope we learn more about how this works, as well as what exactly the Borg Queen is doing. Is this, as Seven seemed to think, the “birth” of a new Borg Queen? If so, that presumably tees up Dr Jurati (or rather, her assimilated body) for being the masked Borg Queen seen in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season! There’s also the possibility on this side of the story to learn more about the Borg and how Borg Queens work in a general sense.

Will Dr Jurati become the new Borg Queen?

I would’ve liked Monsters to spend more time on this side of the story. With the bulk of the story dealing with the coma-dream that Picard was experiencing, it feels as if the episode had its focus in the wrong place. Whatever’s happening with Q is clearly still important – but the potential for a Borg Queen to be loose in the 21st Century and growing in power should bring everything to a screeching halt. Picard and the crew need to tackle this problem, and they need to do so urgently! But as far as we know based on what we saw on screen this week, Seven of Nine and Raffi haven’t even told Rios or Picard what they’ve learned about Dr Jurati.

As I suggested in my last theory post, there’s all sorts of ways that this story could go. A Q-Picard truce or even a temporary alliance is one possibility, with a weakened Q working with Picard to prevent the assimilation of Earth. But it feels like the season is running out of road to tell all of the stories that have been set up. We didn’t get any advancement this week of Kore or Dr Soong’s stories, for example, and Q himself – despite being mentioned – was also absent. If we’re to see this Borg Queen story play out in anywhere close to as much depth as it deserves, a change in focus is urgently needed.

Picard in Monsters.

So I guess that was Monsters. It was an episode that dragged in places, one that feels like an unnecessary sojourn in a short season that really doesn’t have time for such indulgences. Yes, it’s possible that the story of Picard’s youthful trauma will come back later in the season in a way connected with Q. But even assuming that will be the case, Monsters feels like a gratuitous and self-indulgent look at this part of Picard’s backstory and psyche that simply ran too long.

I’m reminded in a way of Nepenthe and, to a lesser extent, Absolute Candor from Season 1. These two episodes advanced the main story of Season 1 in increments, but given the way the story ran out of road by the time we got to Et in Arcadia Ego, they feel somewhat like wasted time in retrospect. Monsters feels like it could end up the same way – but unlike the two Season 1 outings mentioned, it wasn’t a strong or particularly enjoyable episode in its own right. If we look back on the season later and feel that more time was needed to allow things like the Borg Queen story, Q’s story, or Kore and Dr Soong’s stories to play out, Monsters will feel like the standout example of what should’ve been cut.

There were interesting ideas here, and if the same framework or story concept had been used in a different way, I think we could’ve been looking at the episode in more of a positive light. But the barebones and clichéd depiction of Yvette’s mental health condition, the uninspired “haunted castle” and B-movie monsters, and the more interesting storylines being sidelined makes it one of the season’s most disappointing outings so far.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

17.04.22
Additional thought:

It only occurred to me as I was re-reading this review, but one thing to say about Monsters – and the season overall by extension – is that the season’s main characters, as well as important secondary characters all feel disconnected from one another. They don’t seem to be communicating at all, with Rios taking Teresa and Ricardo to La Sirena seemingly without consulting Picard or anyone else, and Raffi and Seven of Nine chasing Dr Jurati also without a word to Picard or Rios. This is in addition to Q doing his own thing away from everyone else, and Kore and Dr Soong off on their own, too. There are occasional bridges between these groups of characters; meetings or pairings in which they get together. But for the most part, everyone feels like they’re in their own little narrative box, taking part in their own story that’s disconnected from everything else. This is a very odd way to structure a season of television in a show like Star Trek: Picard.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 6: Two of One

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2.

For the second week in a row I found it difficult to get excited about Star Trek: Picard. My weekly appointment with Star Trek has been something I’ve looked forward to going back to Lower Decks’ second season last year, and with only a few breaks in between batches of episodes we’ve had a ton of Trek to enjoy over the last few months. But the truth is that Picard’s time travel to the present-day storyline isn’t one I feel all that excited about, and without that excitement I’ve found that I’m watching the series more out of a sense of obligation than enjoyment.

Without wanting to over-sensationalise things, I kind of feel “catfished” by Picard Season 2. The Star Gazer was so utterly fantastic that I’ve gone back and watched it at least a dozen times at this point. But the season it kicked off has got bogged down in a time travel story that I’m struggling to remain invested in. There have been some wonderful moments of characterisation – as indeed we saw this week with Two of One – but overall… the season is on course to be a disappointment, probably ranking lower on my list than Season 1.

Dr Jurati showed off an unexpected talent this week.

When the first major trailer showed off the time travel aspect of the story I was concerned that this is how I’d feel, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Star Trek can do time travel exceptionally well, even with a modern-day focus, and I hoped to be pleasantly surprised by a story involving Q, the Borg Queen, Guinan, and so on. And across the season so far there are plenty of mysterious elements, unanswered questions, and more that I find mildly interesting… but I can’t muster much more than that.

I suspect that when I look back at the season as a whole I’ll say it works far better as a binge-watch than it does as a weekly series, and that’s a position I would’ve never expected to be in. Generally speaking, I prefer it when a new TV series releases its episodes weekly like this. I like having time in between each episode to digest what’s happened and get ready for the next outing. But with Picard Season 2, even if the Admiral and his crew make it back to the 25th Century next week, there’ll still be this rather drawn-out chunk of the story in the middle of the season that’s really starting to drag. If it takes them until the season finale to make it home, that feeling will be even stronger.

An establishing shot of modern-day Los Angeles by night.

So once again it took me a few days to even feel up to watching the latest Picard episode. Whereas I’m usually feeling so excited to have new Star Trek that I can’t wait to dive in… for the second week in a row I just found myself feeling apathetic.

The whole “let’s go undercover at a fancy party” setup that had been established last week is also a premise that I’ve never been wild about. And while Two of One pulled it off reasonably well, I feel that it still hampered the plot to a significant degree. There were moments of contrived drama that were so extreme they felt almost toe-curlingly cringeworthy, with Picard and the crew facing off against Adam Soong and a team of party security guards.

Adam Soong and 21st Century party security guards were this week’s antagonists.

The runtime of Two of One was shorter than expected at less than forty minutes (closer to thirty-five excluding credits, opening titles, and a recap of previous events), and this also got in the way of the story. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend more time with Picard and the crew dodging 21st Century party security staff as if they were in some kind of Hitman video game, but there’s no escaping the fact that several of the episode’s major plot points were raced through in pretty quick fashion. At one point, Adam Soong seemed to have rumbled Picard to the event’s security team, but mere moments later this angle was dropped. It was one of several elements that could have been made more of – even if it wasn’t my favourite part of the story, seeing it cut short was odd.

The highlight by far was Picard’s conversation with his ancestor Renée. This moment really captured the feel of “classic” Picard; his uplifting words to her could’ve come from any one of dozens of episodes of The Next Generation, and reminded me why I love this character so much and why I had been so excited in 2018 when it was announced that he was coming back. Picard doesn’t have to be an action hero to be a wonderful and inspiring captain – he uses his words and diplomatic skills to move people. Credit must go to the writers of this episode – Cindy Appel and Jane Maggs – who beautifully and perfectly managed to recapture the magic of Jean-Luc Picard in that moment. The writers demonstrated not only an understanding of Picard’s character, but a real love and respect for him too.

Picard’s conversation with Renée was one of the high points of the episode.

I’ve long been an advocate for better representation of mental health in entertainment, and again Picard’s conversation with Renée serves as an excellent example of that. Though the meeting between the two of them was brief, what Picard had to say was incredibly impactful, and there are several lines from their conversation that have the potential to be remembered as iconic lines from this beloved character.

Picard also seemed to be drawing on his own experiences in Season 1 as he spoke to Renée, which is something I appreciated. There were some viewers who felt that Picard was “too depressed” at the beginning of Season 1, and that they didn’t like that presentation of the character. But as I argued at the time, where Picard began the story was not as important as what happened to him and the journey he undertook. He found his own “light;” his own glimmer of hope back then through his meeting with Dahj, and that set him on a path to recovery. He was trying to offer that same kind of hope to Renée, and there’s a powerful message there. Even when things seem dark and depressing, there is hope. That’s not only a message that people suffering from clinically-diagnosed depression need to hear – everyone needs to hear those words sometimes. That makes the entire sequence something that I think many viewers would be able to relate to. All in all, a powerful moment.

Renée listened to what Picard had to say.

We’ll return to the party in a moment, but there was another major revelation in Two of One that’s worth talking about. One of the episode’s biggest reveals is that Kore – the “daughter” of Dr Adam Soong – is, in fact, some kind of clone or genetic experiment rather than his natural offspring. As always, I’ll caveat what I’m about to say by saying that my thoughts could shift depending on how this storyline unfolds, but for now I confess that this leaves me distinctly unimpressed. There are two main reasons why.

Firstly, one of the most interesting things about Dr Soong in his appearance last week was this idea of desperation. Dr Soong wasn’t necessarily a bad person, but he was someone willing to go to extreme lengths to save someone he loved and cared for – his own daughter. This left him open to unethical behaviour and to manipulation from Q, but at the core there was an understandable, sympathetic, and even somewhat relatable character. Anyone who’s ever loved someone or lost a close friend or family member could feel some kind of empathy with Dr Soong. Maybe what he did crossed a line, but he wasn’t a villain in the usual sense of the word. He found himself in opposition to Picard and Picard’s mission through a mere accident of circumstances, and there was value in a morally complex character like that.

I feel like Adam Soong has lost a significant part of his characterisation.

The revelation that his scheming goes far deeper than we realised, and that his unethical behaviour is nothing new, risks seriously detracting from the character. Gone is any sense of sympathy or empathy, and an entire dimension that Dr Soong had vanished in an instant. He feels smaller this week, less of a well-rounded human being and more of a flat, uninteresting “mad scientist” character trope. Robbed of his sympathetic motivation to save his daughter, we now see him as someone who seems to engage in unethical and forbidden science for the sake of it. That’s something I find rather disappointing at this juncture, as Dr Soong becomes less interesting as he turns into a fairly standard Star Trek character archetype.

The second reason why this particular story beat fell flat for me was the involvement of Kore. I noted last week that it was odd to have so many new characters played by returning actors, and Kore was one of the characters I pointed out, as she’s played by Soji actor Isa Briones. A huge part of Soji’s story in Season 1 was discovering her own synthetic nature, coming to terms with the fact that much of her life had been an elaborately-constructed lie, and finding her own place in the aftermath of that. Kore’s discovery in Two of One would already feel repetitive given the Soong connection and Soji’s story last season, but this repetitiveness was absolutely hammered home with all the subtlety of a brick to the face because of the fact that Isa Briones is playing this role.

Kore’s story feels derivative of Soji’s in Season 1.

There could well be some kind of connection between Soji and Kore that’s yet to be revealed, in which case there may be more to say. But as things sit right now, it feels like this casting choice was a mistake. In a story that already brought back familiar faces in unfamiliar roles, having Isa Briones’ new character going through a remarkably similar storyline to Soji’s last season doesn’t feel like some kind of poetic symmetry… it feels like a recycled story beat. Not even a riff on the same concept, it comes across as a cheap copycat of what came before, bringing remarkably little to the table that we could even call superficially new or different.

This may set the stage for Kore to somehow come to the aid of Renée or to Picard and the crew of La Sirena, so stay tuned for my theory post for more on that! There’s also the distinct possibility of further developments on this side of the story that could re-energise it and improve things. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed as the season continues to unfold.

Hopefully this story will go somewhere!

The interplay between the Borg Queen and Dr Jurati had been one of my favourite parts of the last few episodes; there’s been something absolutely delicious about the way they talked around one another aboard La Sirena. Following the revelation at the end of last week’s episode that the Borg Queen had done something to Dr Jurati using her assimilation tubules in her dying moments, I was curious to see how this dynamic would evolve.

Fortunately I think it remains one of the season’s stronger storylines, and with Dr Jurati potentially losing control of herself to the Borg Queen, that could set up a whole new direction for the story to go. If a Borg Queen, semi-restored and potentially regenerating her abilities, is now loose in the 21st Century, that could even lead to a cessation of hostilities between Q and Picard; they may need to set their differences aside to prevent the Queen from assimilating more and more humans! Again, stay tuned for my theory post for an expanded look at this idea.

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen on stage.

Alison Pill played this dual role well, communicating successfully the difference between the moments when Dr Jurati was in control and when the Borg Queen was in control. This can be an acting challenge that isn’t easy to pull off, especially when it has to be somewhat subtle, but a combination of a great performance and some clever direction by Jonathan Frakes meant it stuck the landing.

Seeing Dr Jurati struggle with remaining in control and battling against a “voice in her head” that no one else could see or understand was perhaps the episode’s second mental health allegory – albeit an unintended one, perhaps. It was one I found very relatable, and there were definitely aspects of the conversations Dr Jurati had with the Borg Queen inside her own body that hit close to home as someone with a mental health condition. Both Alison Pill and Annie Wersching deserve a lot of credit for the way they brought this to screen, and it was a powerful part of the episode.

Dr Jurati’s story was a powerful one this week.

We got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment with Raffi this week, as she continues to struggle with the grief she feels in the wake of Elnor’s death. More could’ve been made of this, and while Michelle Hurd did well with the very short scene she had at communicating how Raffi is struggling – and struggling alone – in an episode that already felt cut-down, I felt that more time could be dedicated to this storyline. Right now, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; treading water in the background while other stories take centre-stage.

There was a moment between Rios and Raffi that could’ve been expanded upon to further this story. Literally just an extra minute or two of dialogue between them could’ve begun to set the stage for Raffi to reach out and ask for help, or take the story in a different direction. As it is, it felt more like a repetition of the same hallucination she had last week rather than any real progress being made with this storyline. Again, though, there’s value in almost any depiction of mental health on screen, and seeing Raffi experiencing these post-bereavement hallucinations has merit. I just wish the past couple of episodes had made more of it.

Raffi with Rios at the gala.

I spoke last week about how Rios has been a disappointment in recent episodes, not because I didn’t enjoy the immigration storyline, but because of how he seems to have forgotten about his crew and his ship. The fact that he’s gone five episodes without so much as thinking about the USS Stargazer and its crew continues to feel regressive, and overall Rios has taken massive backwards steps since the season premiere. This remains a source of disappointment, and again it’s something that Two of One did nothing to address.

In that same conversation with Raffi, there was the potential for Rios to share his own sense of loss or his worries about the crew of the Stargazer. As things stand, if the timeline is restored in exactly the way it was then the Stargazer will be lost with all hands when the ship self-destructs. Instead we got a tonally weird Rios, self-indulgently revelling in the excesses of 21st Century high society – cigars, rich canapés, even old-fashioned matches. Not only does this continue this unfortunate regression, with Rios no longer feeling like a Starfleet captain, but it also presents an incredibly odd contrast to how Rios was presented just a couple of episodes ago when he found himself detained by the authorities and facing deportation.

Rios seems a little too happy in the 21st Century.

There were some interesting moments in Two of One, and some callbacks to past iterations of the franchise that were little treats for returning fans. Picard and Renée discussing OV-165 – one of the futuristic spacecraft seen in the opening title sequence of Enterprise – was neat, for example. I’m also intrigued by Picard’s new synthetic body shorting out a defibrillator; the exact nature of synths like Picard and Soji has never really been explored – they seem to be human enough to pass basic scans and such, but yet are also inhuman enough to cause damage to equipment like this. As with things like the Confederation’s defeat of the Borg, it would be interesting to learn more about the exact nature of Picard’s synthetic status.

Speaking of Picard on the operating table, I do have a couple of gripes with the way the episode ended. After Picard pushed Renée out of the way of the car, Two of One promptly dropped her side of the story. Considering that Renée was in a very fragile emotional state, being almost run down by a car – and seeing a man who had been so kind to her badly injured – has the potential to have a massive impact on her, yet this is something the episode didn’t even pretend to try and explore. This feels very odd in context, and anyone who’s ever suffered from the anxiety and depression that seems to be afflicting Renée can tell you that even seemingly minor events or bumps in the road can be enough to completely throw you off-course. In short, although Picard’s speech helped Renée and lifted her mood for a time, seeing him badly injured – in an act of self-sacrifice to save her, no less – seems like it would have had an affect on her, and could have even undermined the entire mission.

Picard was run down by a car.

The second point is much more of a nitpick, but I’ve never liked the way that car-versus-pedestrian accidents like this are depicted in fiction. The injuries one can typically expect from being hit by a car are things like broken bones, blunt-force trauma to the legs, arms, ribs, etc. Being knocked out or concussed can be part of that, but these kinds of collisions are often depicted in a very contrived way, and that’s how this one felt. It felt rather like a scene from a soap opera, both in terms of the way it was scripted and the way it was filmed and edited.

However, I often find myself saying that contrived and awkward moments can set up much better things to come, so I’ll put a pin in it for now and wait to see what the next episode brings! An exploration of Picard’s subconscious could be interesting in and of itself, and I daresay there will be plot-relevant points there to help further some of the season’s story arcs too!

Outside of the gala venue.

So that’s it for this week, I guess. A short episode that could’ve been more than it was, hampered by a setting I’m not really invested in, a couple of major story beats that feel repetitive or derivative, and bringing more than one cliché to the table is basically how I’d summarise Two of One. There were some great moments contained within that framework, though – Picard’s speech to Renée probably being the highlight.

I’m still very keen to get back to the 25th Century to see what the heck’s going on with that new Borg ship. For me, the past few episodes have dragged, and I think the time travel aspect of the story could have been cut down by making a handful of different choices. That’s just my personal taste, though, and I get that a lot of folks are totally fine with these kinds of stories. There are still some wonderful moments of characterisation and some clever allegories in Picard Season 2.

Perhaps if the next couple of episodes get things back on track, I’ll look on Two of One more favourably in hindsight.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 5: Fly Me To The Moon

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationVoyagerFirst Contact, and Discovery.

Fly Me To The Moon was an interesting episode, one which introduced several new characters and story elements. I didn’t see most of its various twists coming until they landed – and being genuinely surprised by a story is always something I appreciate. Jonathan Frakes returned to Picard to direct for the first time since Season 1, and I noted more than a few similarities to Stardust City Rag – one of two episodes that he directed last time around.

However, Fly Me To The Moon wasn’t an outstanding episode for me personally. It piled a couple of frustrating story tropes on top of one another, compounding a modern-day setting that’s already beginning to stretch my patience with a stealthy infiltration mission that felt rather like something lifted from a video game. These stories weren’t badly-executed by any means, but the foundations upon which they were built just aren’t my favourites, and from a personal point of view I felt that the episode suffered as a result of that.

Dr Jurati undercover.

There had been quite a lot of buildup to the story of Rios being arrested and deported from the United States; a timely examination of a real-world phenomenon that’s happening right now. But three episodes of buildup fizzled out rather quickly in Fly Me To The Moon, with Rios’ rescue and the liberation of a handful of migrants being treated as a relatively minor part of the story. We got a satisfactory conclusion to Rios’ capture after his run-in with Teresa, but it wasn’t a particularly long or engaging one.

It’s always worth saying that we’re nowhere near the end of the season yet, and there’s still time to return to Teresa’s clinic and take another look at this aspect of the story. With Rios’ combadge still missing, I think they’ll have to take action to retrieve it somehow. So I’m trying to avoid passing judgement too quickly. What I’ll say for now is that if we don’t pick up this story thread later, it gets a grade C: a basic pass. If we take another look at the way migrants are being handled – and specifically, what’s so dangerous about a Sanctuary District on the border – then maybe that grade can be bumped up a notch or two.

Rios with Pedro, a fellow deportee.

Sticking with Rios, I’ve had an unsettling feeling about him that’s been building for several episodes. I touched on this last time, but I wanted to dedicate a little more time to it here. In short, Rios has regressed as a character in a pretty significant way. He hasn’t regressed since last season, but since his role in the Season 2 premiere: The Star Gazer.

That episode saw Rios after he returned to Starfleet and accepted a brand-new command. He had a crew to be responsible for, a galaxy to explore, and he seemed to have taken to heart the lessons he learned on his adventure with Admiral Picard in Season 1 – particularly Picard’s act of sacrifice and the words he spoke during the climactic standoff over Coppelius. It was genuinely wonderful to see Rios in that role – and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Trekkies asking for a Captain Rios spin-off show in future!

It feels like Captain Rios has regressed somewhat since The Star Gazer.

But after Rios found himself in the Confederation timeline, he seemed to forget all about that. He mentioned his command last week, but only in this weirdly aggressive rant to a prison guard. He doesn’t seem to care – or even remember – his crew, the officers under his command and for whom he is responsible. Instead he seems back in his “Star Trek does Han Solo” mode; the renegade with a heart of gold. That characterisation suited Rios in Season 1 – knowing that there was a good soul inside someone who had a hard time showing it and a hard time processing grief and loss was key to his character back then. But we’ve seen so much change for Rios in just that one episode at the start of the season that the way he’s been acting for the last few episodes feels like a major regression.

And it’s a complicated situation to resolve right now. Clearly the writers are pushing Raffi down the “grief and loss” road this time around, with Seven of Nine in a supporting role. In addition, if Rios were to suddenly start showing an emotional response to the loss of the crew of the Stargazer, not only would it seem a bit late in the game, but it would also feel like a retread of what he went through in Season 1. I feel like Rios has been written into a somewhat of a corner, and I’m not sure I see an easy way out for him as things currently sit. I’m sure he’d be glad to get his ship and crew back, if such a thing is even possible, but he hasn’t done anything to show that to us as the audience. I’m just not feeling much coming from Rios right now.

I’d like to see more from Rios to convince me he’s a Starfleet captain.

If I may make a bold suggestion, it seems to me that Rios has been included in the story in large part because, as a Hispanic man, it really hammers home the point the writers have been trying to make about immigration in the United States. But because Rios had already seen such an amazing turnaround by the time of The Star Gazer, at this point in the season I’m left wondering if maybe we might’ve had a more enjoyable time overall if Elnor had been the one to survive and it was Rios sitting in La Sirena’s morgue.

That’s not because I dislike Rios. I think he can be a fun character, and there’s something about his roguish charm that makes him feel different in Star Trek; a character archetype we don’t often see. But having undergone that development and become a captain, dragging him backwards feels wrong. If there needed to be cuts to the cast of Season 2 for whatever reason, bringing Elnor along could’ve been more interesting. We’d have got a lot more of the “fish-out-of-water” comedy with Elnor, for example, and there’d have been scope to develop his character a lot more. With a little creative writing, the story of loss for Raffi could still have been included.

Raffi briefly thought that she saw Elnor among the migrants.

But enough about the story we aren’t watching!

One thing that felt quite odd in Fly Me To The Moon was the inclusion of three actors playing brand-new characters and not the characters we’re familiar with. Brent Spiner’s role as a new member of the Soong family had been teased in pre-season marketing material and was expected, and of course we’d seen the Watcher (in Laris’ form) last week. Isa Briones also returned this week – but not as Soji.

When a new character played by a familiar actor is introduced, I think most fans just shrug it off and continue with the story. Star Trek has done this so many times going all the way back to weird “body swap” stories in The Original Series, so it’s not like it’s a problem or anything like that. But it was very strange to have three brand-new characters in a single episode all played by familiar faces. One or possibly even two might’ve gotten a pass, but to have three felt gratuitous and ultimately detracted from the way Fly Me To The Moon landed.

Isa Briones was one of three regulars to be playing a different character in Fly Me To The Moon.

I’m glad that Picard’s writers haven’t just forgotten about Soji, considering how she was such a major part of the story of Season 1. And it was nice to welcome back Isa Briones for a much larger role than she had in the premiere. But all things considered, this new character of Kore felt odd in an episode that was already dealing with the return of Brent Spiner as another Dr Soong and Orla Brady as the Watcher/Laris.

That being said, there was something interesting about Kore’s character, and the life-limiting genetic condition that she was suffering from managed to walk a fine line between feeling realistic enough to elicit sympathy but at the same time feeling very “Star Trek.” Particularly after Q’s medicine wore off and she suffered a flare-up, I felt that this unnamed condition had a very sci-fi feel, and I appreciated that.

Kore’s illness had a definite sci-fi feel.

I can relate to Kore. As someone whose poor health means I spend more and more time at home, I can empathise with the way she feels about being trapped and isolated, and like she’s missing out on everything from everyday things like swimming to special events like parties and gatherings. It’s an interesting angle for the series, and I hope we get to spend a little more time with Kore. Seeing what her life is like in isolation is interesting to me – and more than a little timely after the couple of years we’ve all just been through!

People with severe allergies might also find the presentation of Kore and her health condition to be relatable. I’m not in that category, but I’ve known people with allergies so severe that what others might consider to be everyday events – such as eating out at a restaurant – become impossible, and I felt at least some influence there in the way Kore came across on screen.

I found the presentation of Kore to be very relatable.

Although I generally enjoyed this story point, it does feel as though the writers of Picard took Kore’s health condition to somewhat of an extreme, and the real reason for that is to give motivation to the new character of Dr Soong. Brent Spiner did well to put across such a conflicted character in just a single episode – I really felt that Dr Soong was buckling under the weight of an impossibly difficult situation. The only caveat there is that maybe the situation with Kore was overreaching – trying to be an eleven out of ten when a nine would’ve been perfectly sufficient for the sake of the story!

How many Dr Soongs has Brent Spiner played now? I’ve honestly lost count! I think at this point we’ve seen practically all of Data’s ancestors on screen in one way or another! But that’s okay, and tying the events of Season 2 to a familiar face is something that I think many fans will appreciate. While I don’t think there can really be very many blanks left to be filled in for the Soong family at this point, possibilities exist to connect Adam Soong’s story to that of Dr Arik Soong – a character who appeared in Enterprise.

Dr Adam Soong.

Brent Spiner was unexpectedly one of the standouts in Fly Me To The Moon. Coming hot on the heels of his portrayal of Altan Inigo Soong in Season 1, I felt that the hairstyling (including a beard) and makeup used in Season 2 went a long way to making him look at least superficially different, and the performance really succeeded at capturing the notion that Dr Adam Soong is a good person who’s being forced to do increasingly questionable things out of desperation.

If Adam Soong is hailed in the Confederation timeline as some kind of hero, we’re still yet to find out why that is. And it’s possible that whatever he’s trying to do will ultimately lead to something serious, possibly even evil. I noted in Kore’s reaction as her medication wore off a kind of dark greyish tinge to her veins; could we be looking at nanotechnology, perhaps? If so, could Dr Soong have some kind of involvement with the Borg? With Q around, anything is possible – so stay tuned for my updated theories!

A monument to Adam Soong in the Confederation timeline.

Speaking of the Borg, the situation with the Borg Queen aboard La Sirena took a turn that I genuinely wasn’t expecting. The interplay between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen had been one of the most fascinating parts of the season’s story, and it came to a head in Fly Me To The Moon. If I were to make one criticism I’d say that maybe this was a little premature; I could’ve happily watched Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen continue to talk around each other and build up this antipathy and fascination for a lot longer!

It was an incredibly well-done story, though. After being pushed, prodded, and manipulated by the Borg Queen for the past three episodes, Dr Jurati finally took a stand. When faced with a choice between preserving the timeline and saving her way home, Dr Jurati chose to kill the Borg Queen. Doing so saved the life of a hapless 21st Century police officer (who felt, sorry to say, like a bit of a stereotype), but came at the expense of the Borg Queen’s physical form, at least.

The death of the Borg Queen.

The final moments of the episode showed us one final twist in this tale – the Borg Queen inserted some kind of assimilation tubules into Dr Jurati in her dying moments. Having seemingly recovered her ability to assimilate – at least partially – Dr Jurati is now haunted by an apparition of the Borg Queen that only she can see. We’ll have to save this for my next theory post, but I wonder if there’s a possibility that this is some kind of psychological symptom rather than the actual Borg Queen!

There was some stellar cinematography during the scenes set aboard La Sirena. Though not quite on par with the dramatic arrival of the Borg and the masked Queen in the season premiere, I still got a real creepy, horror movie vibe from Jonathan Frakes’ directing and camera work. The dimly-lit sets, parts of which were tinged with the green light we so often associate with the Borg, amplified this sensation. The entire story, from the Borg Queen’s fake phonecall all the way through to Dr Jurati hunting her with a shotgun was pitch-perfect in that regard.

Dr Jurati versus the Borg Queen!

There was a definite influence from sci-fi-horror films like Alien, The Thing, and others on this side of the story. A darkened La Sirena felt incredibly claustrophobic, particularly in the scenes featuring the hapless police officer. Captain Rios’ ship made a wonderful stand-in for Alien’s Nostromo, something I particularly felt as Dr Jurati came aboard wielding a shotgun!

Unfortunately it felt as if this sequence existed in a separate story. With the exception of a few seconds after Rios, Raffi, and Seven materialised aboard La Sirena, which led to the revelation that the Borg Queen was dead, the characters essentially ignored this huge moment for Dr Jurati as they raced ahead to planning their heist on the astronauts’ gala. Maybe we can argue that this is another way in which Picard and co. are overlooking Dr Jurati or failing to care for her as much as they ought to, but in the context of the episode itself it ended up feeling as if something was missing from the story.

Dr Jurati being assimilated.

Fly Me To The Moon was the shortest episode of the season by far, clocking in at barely forty minutes when you exclude the credits and title sequences, so there was definitely scope to expand on what happened to Dr Jurati in some way. Picard literally did not even acknowledge what had happened to her, and again this can be argued to be part of what the Borg Queen was saying to her about her loneliness, but honestly I don’t feel it landed that way.

Just a couple of episodes ago, in Assimilation, we saw how Picard does genuinely care for Dr Jurati. He was the one who okayed her mission to link up with the Borg Queen, but he also showed real concern at the dangers, and there were incredibly sweet and tender moments between the two of them as Dr Jurati subconsciously shared her feelings for Picard, and later as Picard covered her with a blanket and then positioned himself defensively in between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen. So in short, I don’t buy that Picard arrived back at La Sirena, saw what had happened, but chose to disregard it entirely. Maybe a scene was scripted and not filmed for some reason, or maybe something was left on the cutting room floor – but one way or another, this felt like a significant omission.

Picard and Tallinn after ariving aboard La Sirena.

Before we get to the gala we have to consider Q’s condition. We’ll get deeper into speculative territory in my theory update, but it definitely seems as though Q may be approaching the end of his life – somehow. It had long been the assumption that members of the Q Continuum are immortal (or so long-lived as to be effectively immortal) and I’d point to the Voyager episode Death Wish in particular as an example of this, as well as The Next Generation first season episode Hide and Q.

So that has changed – or a change has somehow been inflicted upon Q. How or why that is we don’t know – but I suspect it has to be connected in some way to Picard, otherwise why would Q choose to spend what could be akin to his final moments by inflicting one last puzzle upon him? Perhaps something has happened to destabilise the Q Continuum, such as an attack or invasion, and that could be to blame. One way or another, though, it seems like Picard is setting up a story in which Q may not survive.

What could be happening to Q?

John de Lancie and Brent Spiner played off one another expertly, and I got a hint – just a glimpse, at this stage – that Q may be more desperate than he’s letting on. This would connect to the slap a couple of episodes back (no, not the one at the Oscars!) as evidence that Q is losing control, no longer able to fully contain his emotions. He put on a brave face for the sake of manipulating Dr Soong, but I got the sense that if Dr Soong had resisted in any way, Q wouldn’t have known what to do. Without his powers – or with his powers being less reliable – he’s more vulnerable and exposed than we’ve seen him since he was temporarily stripped of them in The Next Generation Season 3 episode Deja Q.

Before we move on from Q, one final “easter egg!” In movies and on TV, most phone numbers use the prefix 555, which is set aside for use in the industry. Q’s “business card” didn’t… so out of curiosity (and not really expecting anything) I called the number. Try it if you can!

We learned a little more about the Watcher this week, including their name. It was interesting to tie the Watcher to the events of The Original Series episode Assignment: Earth, and that’s something I really wasn’t expecting. As an interesting aside, Assignment: Earth was created as a backdoor pilot for a prospective spin-off series that would’ve focused on Gary Seven!

The Watcher – a.k.a. Tallinn.

Though we learned part of the Watcher’s story, there’s still a lot that Fly Me To The Moon didn’t explain that will surely come out later in the season. The most obvious question is how the Watcher relates to Laris, and why the two characters look identical. Is it possible that this Tallinn is actually Laris? If so, what would that mean for Laris and Picard, and why would Tallinn be assigned to watch over Picard in the future? I sense a time-loop paradox coming!

There’s also the question of the organisation that Tallinn and Gary Seven worked for, and what their goals and ambitions are. Assignment: Earth seemed to suggest that these technologically powerful aliens were benevolent – but they seem to be aware of time travel, divergences in time, and other such things. How they could connect to the events of the season is unclear right now, but quite interesting!

Gary Seven in Assignment: Earth.

It’s been a while since I last watched Assignment: Earth, and I confess it’s not a particular favourite of mine. It’s not like I hate it or anything, but I wouldn’t usually pick it out to watch – as evidenced by the fact that it’s been several years since I last saw it! But I think it’ll be worth going back and taking another look, not so much to give context to Fly Me To The Moon, but in case it’s referenced again in a future episode this season.

Orla Brady got to show off a different set of skills as Tallinn compared to her role as Laris, and she did a fine job of convincing me that Tallinn was powerful and had a lot of knowledge of things that both Picard and the audience do not. It’s difficult to fully judge this character without seeing where things go from here; now that the initial shock of her appearance has worn off, we need to be patient while the next phase of the Picard-Tallinn-Laris story unravels.

Picard and Tallinn watch Renée’s therapy session.

Up next, we come to the gala itself. This is also incomplete, as we’re waiting to see what will happen next week, but for now here are my initial thoughts. I don’t like this setup, this kind of “sneaking into a high society party in disguise” trope. It’s been done before in different ways, some more successful than others, but generally speaking it’s a story setup that can fall victim to feeling contrived and forced, and there were definitely unpleasant notes of that for me.

The buildup to the party aboard La Sirena and at the Château was another sequence that could’ve been expanded upon; it felt as though Picard and the crew put together a plan very quickly before rushing into executing it. I could’ve spent another couple of minutes watching them talk about the plan for the gala and how it was supposed to work.

The episode seemed to rush headfirst into this moment.

Finally, the idea that the crew can’t all just beam in made sense and was well thought-out, but this was then immediately undermined by the idea that one of them could sneak in and “hack the mainframe” so that the others could join later. If Tallinn had the ability to add one person to the guest list and create an entire fake ID for them, why couldn’t that be repeated? It’s a nitpick for sure, but these things sometimes bug me in stories like this!

That said, once the action shifted over to the gala itself it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Alison Pill did well to convey Dr Jurati’s lack of confidence and how she feels conflicted and perhaps even traumatised by recent events, and this led to a truly unexpected twist to round off the story.

Dr Jurati at the end of the episode.

It seems certain that Picard and the crew will make it to the gala within the first few minutes of the next episode, continuing a strange trend this season of these mini-cliffhangers that don’t get substantial payoffs. The end of Penance, for example, led into a short, underwhelming sequence of the crew of La Sirena easily overpowering the Magistrate and Confederation forces, and just this week we got a fairly short and nondescript ending to the aforementioned Rios storyline. The cliffhanger at the end of The Star Gazer worked well to tease the Confederation timeline – but some of these other ones haven’t blown me away. Maybe next week’s episode will, though!

So that was Fly Me To The Moon. Renée Picard and her mission are intriguing, but we didn’t find out a great deal about her on this occasion. Renée herself was a relatively minor part of an episode that had a lot of pots on the stove, so it won’t be until subsequent episodes that we learn what role she may (or may not) ultimately play in this divergence in time.

Renée at the gala.

For me, no episode so far has come close to recreating the incredible highs offered by The Star Gazer as the season kicked off. Fly Me To The Moon had some interesting elements in the mix, and I’m certainly curious to learn more about the conflicted and anxious Renée Picard, but they came in a framework that didn’t always excite or enthrall me. As I said last week, the limitations of a modern-day setting are definitely beginning to bite, and as interested as I am to see more from Q, to learn more about Dr Soong, and to see the Europa Mission, I’m also quite keen for Picard and the crew to find out exactly what’s happened so they can start thinking about getting back to their own time period!

You’ve probably noticed that I’m a few days late with this week’s review. The truth is that I didn’t even get around to watching Fly Me To The Moon for several days; I’ve been on a bit of a downer in general, made a lot worse (at least insofar as my enjoyment of Star Trek is concerned) by the international broadcast mess engulfing Strange New Worlds. So it took a lot of effort – more than usual – to push through that to get this review done. Sorry for the delay, and I hope things will begin to get back to normal in the days ahead!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 4: Watcher

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationVoyagerFirst Contact, and Discovery.

For me, Picard Season 2 had been coasting on the incredible high that the season premiere delivered. Now that we’ve hit the fourth episode of the season – almost halfway through – I felt the quality dip ever so slightly, dropping down from an incredibly strong start. That’s not to say I didn’t have an enjoyable time with Watcher it’s week, but rather that Picard Season 2 has begun to settle into its time travel story.

As I said a few months ago when looking at one of the pre-season trailers, stories involving time travel to the modern day have never been my favourites in Star Trek. In addition to the omnipresent problem of crafting a time travel narrative that makes sense and doesn’t rely on paradoxes or other contrivances, I really just feel that a big part of what makes Star Trek so appealing – its optimistic, high-tech future – is missing. Watcher gave us glimpses of that thanks to the scenes set aboard La Sirena, but the bulk of the story took Picard, Raffi, Seven, and Rios to contemporary Los Angeles. It told an interesting story – one that, as a mid-season episode, we’ll have to reserve judgement on aspects of until we know how storylines unfold – but one that was constrained by that setting, at least for me.

An establishing shot of modern-day Los Angeles.

For the first time this season I felt that Picard was in a rush. There were a couple of significant moments early in Watcher that seemed to be raced past in a flash, despite the fact that we’d realistically expect them to take longer. The first was Seven, Raffi, and a nurse from Teresa’s clinic being able to identify Rios from an incredibly vague description, and the second came a few moments later when Picard and Dr Jurati figured out that they only had three days to avert a change to the timeline.

In both cases, a longer episode (or a longer season) could’ve spent just a little more time to help these points unfold naturally. The idea that the nurse would’ve been able to figure out that Seven and Raffi were talking about Rios from the description of a “scruffy” man is ridiculous considering the clinic’s clientele. And when it came to Dr Jurati and Picard, the concept of subconsciously drawing on a particular number was interesting – but the rushed pacing meant it felt poorly-executed and underdeveloped. I certainly had a hard time buying that they’d been able to hit on the solution to that particular puzzle within literally a minute of exploring it. In the days of The Next Generation, when seasons were longer, that could’ve been almost an entire episode!

Seven of Nine and Raffi visited Terea’s clinic… briefly.

There’s another thing I’m struggling to follow on this side of the story, too: why is the Borg Queen suddenly being so evasive and unhelpful? She agreed to help Picard travel back to the 21st Century in order to repair the timeline – a timeline which saw the Borg wiped out in a way that I sincerely hope we find out more details about. She needs the timeline to be repaired as much as they do; their motivations are the same even if this is merely an alliance of convenience. Yet after crash-landing in the 21st Century – and, if Picard and Dr Jurati are correct, with merely three days to spare in order to prevent the divergence in time – the Borg Queen suddenly stopped being helpful and even tried to hide the Watcher’s location and the date of the divergence. Why?

At the moment it seems to be that the answer is “because plot,” and that’s just not very satisfying. If she had told Picard and Dr Jurati where, when, and how to meet the mysterious Watcher, half the plot of Watcher could’ve been skipped. It isn’t that the narrative in question was bad or unenjoyable, it’s just that it feels so very flimsy. A single question about one character’s behaviour or motivation is enough to send the whole house of cards tumbling down – and as someone who’s invested in the story of Picard and the world of Star Trek, I prefer to see stories with rock-solid foundations!

The Borg Queen in Watcher.

Leaving one person alone with the Borg Queen – especially Dr Jurati after her experience last week – seems like a very bad idea! I’m certain that this is setting up something that will be paid off later; their evolving relationship seems to stand as testament to that. In fact, the dynamic between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen is rapidly becoming one of my favourite parts of the entire season – the way they tease one another, talk around and over each other, and betray each other’s trust is absolutely riveting to watch.

Alison Pill has brought a lot to the character of Dr Jurati, managing to successfully balance a character who has a definite comedic edge and light-heartedness with some incredibly deep and complex storylines. We saw in Season 1 how Dr Jurati was the brainwashed sleeper agent; an embedded spy who used her closeness to Picard to kill her friend and sometime lover Dr Maddox. That almost led her to suicide in one of Season 1’s most painfully raw sequences.

Dr Jurati in Watcher.

This time around, Dr Jurati is staring down one of the biggest villains in all of Star Trek: the Borg Queen. She’s allowing the Borg Queen to get inside her head – literally and figuratively – and while this week we saw that she still has the capacity to lie, hide things from the Borg Queen, and use her skills to her advantage, there’s a very real sense that the mask is slipping. With the two of them alone – potentially for days or longer – the Borg Queen could continue to push Dr Jurati and find an angle to successfully manipulate her.

Perhaps we’ll have to save this for my next theory post, but I wonder if there could be a catalyst for setting off this conflict. So far, in the time that’s passed since La Sirena arrived in the 21st Century, no one from that era has noticed the crash site… but could it be possible that someone is already on the way? We saw in one of the pre-season trailers a pair of characters who seemed to be in the early stages of assimilation; if someone noticed La Sirena’s crash landing, could police or military forces be en route? If so, perhaps Dr Jurati will have to team up with the Borg Queen to keep La Sirena out of their hands.

Who’s this chap that we glimpsed in a pre-season trailer?

Perhaps part of the reason why the scenes set aboard La Sirena felt so fun was because they were the only scenes in which Star Trek’s futuristic technology was centre-stage. As mentioned, time travel to the modern day may be a typical Star Trek story setup going all the way back to the first season of The Original Series… but these kinds of stories seldom end up as my favourites, personally speaking. Taken as a one-off episode or a two-part story, back in the days of longer seasons, I generally found the setup to be inoffensive enough, but as we’re settling into the 21st Century now, with everyone except Dr Jurati now firmly embedded on that side of the story, I’m getting the sense that the limitations of that setting are beginning to bite.

The “fish-out-of-water” side of sending 25th Century characters back in time was on full display as Seven of Nine and Raffi attempted to track down Rios, and that was certainly fun for a while. Their sequences in the stolen police car started off feeling exciting, particularly as Seven had to figure out how to drive a vehicle that she’s inherently unfamiliar with, but overall I felt that it probably ran a little too long. Once the basic concept had been shown off – that Seven of Nine is driving a stolen police car – there wasn’t really much more for that sequence to say; both metaphorically and literally, it didn’t go anywhere.

Grand Theft Auto: Star Trek edition.

For a crew who were warned about “butterflies” and the need to be incredibly careful about preserving the past, they certainly seem to be making a scene in 2024! Beaming Seven and Raffi out of the police car in broad daylight when they could be seen by at least one police officer feels like an incredibly risky move. I guess this side of the story is also considering the impact of Raffi’s grief about Elnor and how that could be impairing her judgement; it felt like we came close to a more detailed look at that concept but didn’t quite get there this week. Maybe it’ll be something that builds up over a few episodes before being talked about more openly and coming to a resolution.

For the first time since Elnor’s death, I got a sense that it could be more permanent than I’d initially thought. Raffi’s single-minded insistence that restoring the timeline will save him, and her unwillingness to even contemplate the possibility that it won’t, feels like a storyline that could end with her having to confront the reality that Elnor is really gone. Star Trek loves using technobabble to save the day – and that could still happen, don’t get me wrong – but if we consider Elnor less as a character in his own right and as more of a motivating factor in Raffi’s arc this season, he could well be permanently dead.

Raffi is convinced that Elnor can be saved.

Speaking of characters who seem to have been written out of the show – at least in the immediate term – where is Soji? I’m genuinely surprised that we’ve now had three episodes (out of a ten-episode season, remember) where she hasn’t appeared, and that comes after a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in the season premiere that didn’t actually have a significant impact on the story. Are we going to see Soji at all this season, or will she perhaps cameo in the season finale to bookend things?

Considering Soji’s incredibly central role to the events of Season 1, it seems more than a little odd that Season 2 has gone in this direction. I felt that there was scope to see Soji in the Confederation timeline, and perhaps we will if we ever revisit that setting, but so far her absence has been noticeable. The fact that none of the other characters have so much as mentioned her by name hammers this home, too. Depending on how long the mission to 2024 lasts, there’s still time for Soji to have an impact on the story later on… but that prospect feels like it’s shrinking the longer the season remains in this time period.

We haven’t seen Soji since the season premiere.

But enough about who wasn’t included this week! There was a returning character that I would never have expected to see in a million years: the punk on the bus! This character made an incredibly unexpected yet welcome return from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and actor Kirk Thatcher reprised his role from that film. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling at seeing him again; this nod and wink to longstanding Trekkies was absolutely appreciated!

This is something that Picard has done really well even going back to Season 1. Bringing back characters and including little references and nods to the history of the franchise goes a long way to making the series feel connected to the rest of Star Trek. I would have never expected to see the punk on the bus from Star Trek IV make a return in Picard – and that’s what made it so special. I was grinning from ear to ear after this wonderful and unexpected scene, even more so because he seems to have learned a valuable lesson after his run-in with Kirk and Spock in 1986!

The best character surprise in all of modern Star Trek!

There are some things in Star Trek (and film and TV in a general sense) that I’ve never felt needed explaining. Why do characters look different in different iterations of the franchise, for example? The fact that certain characters have been recast – as Guinan was in Watcher or as the entire cast of The Original Series were for the Kelvin films – has honestly never been something that bothered me, and as a viewer I think a degree of leeway has to be offered when suspending our disbelief in these circumstances. It was possible to digitally de-age John de Lancie for his initial appearance as Q – and that moment was absolutely fantastic. But to digitally re-create a younger Whoopi Goldberg for Watcher would’ve either meant Guinan’s role in the story needed to be cut down, or it would’ve been phenomenally expensive to have a CGI character in all of these scenes.

In light of the way the Star Wars franchise has handled the return of some of its classic characters (too many, if you ask me) I can already anticipate that there will be some Trekkies who want to see Star Trek do the same; to use CGI and digital techniques more gratuitously in some of these circumstances. Personally, I don’t think it’s something that’s necessary – and as long as the newly-cast actor bears a passing resemblance to the original character, I’m more than happy to continue to suspend my disbelief! It’s worth remembering that Star Trek isn’t backed up by Disney-level money; some of the technologies that Star Wars can afford to use are very expensive, and I’d rather see the Star Trek franchise use its money more wisely rather than rely on digital gimmicks.

Guinan’s new look.

Speaking of things that are unnecessary: did we really need Watcher to explain why Picard has a British accent despite being from France? After 35 years and close to 200 appearances, are we not just happy to accept that that’s the way Picard talks? Again, it’s something that honestly never bothered me and I hadn’t even thought about – except in a very tongue-in-cheek way, perhaps.

In this case, it was partially an explanation for why Château Picard is abandoned in the 21st Century, and I appreciate that the writers didn’t just leave that unexplained. I just feel like there was an unnecessary attempt to tie in an aspect of Picard’s past with the way Sir Patrick Stewart speaks, and I’ve just never felt that it was a contradiction in the character of Admiral Picard in the first place, let alone one that needed to be given an in-universe explanation. Characters like Geordi La Forge or Hoshi Sato also don’t speak with the accents we might typically expect to hear in contemporary times from people born where they supposedly were, and again it’s never felt like a contradiction or something that begged an explanation.

Picard and Dr Jurati at the abandoned Château.

On Rios’ side of the story we got perhaps the smallest tease that we haven’t seen the last of Teresa. I inferred from her parting words to Rios that we might see her again. I didn’t really like the way that Rios told his life story to the prison guard; I didn’t see what the point was, other than presumably setting up some kind of contradiction or problem that might be referenced later on. It just felt unnecessary for him to tell the story of the Stargazer, Picard, and the 24th Century in this kind of strangely angry way. I get that Rios was feeling angry after seeing the injustices of 2024, but this doesn’t seem like a natural way for him to react.

I’d like to see something from Rios going forward to at least acknowledge the Stargazer; ever since being transplanted into the Confederation timeline he seems to have basically ignored or forgotten what happened. He’s the captain, and the crew under his command should be one of his top priorities, so to have not even so much as mentioned any of them for several episodes feels a little odd – and it’s beginning to erode Rios’ standing as a Starfleet captain. Even just a line or two of dialogue to say that he hopes restoring the timeline will mean they’ll be okay would do so much to alleviate this.

Rios on a bus.

The way Rios must be feeling about the crew of the Stargazer could also set up a connection between him and Raffi. The two characters have hardly said two words to each other for several episodes, yet the weight of responsibility and the sense of grief and loss that both must be feeling could be a way for them to connect. It seems, though, that Seven of Nine and Raffi are dealing with that particular storyline.

The story about illegal immigration and police brutality that Rios is involved in is a timely one, though, and one absolutely worth telling. There was some incredibly evocative cinematography from director Lea Thompson on this side of the story, with shots of Rios framed through the wires of the cage detaining him that really hit hard. As a non-American I fear some of the nuances of this story are lost on me, but many of the themes it touches on can apply here in the UK as well, unfortunately.

A caged Captain Rios.

It took me a moment to figure out why Guinan wasn’t familiar with Picard when he arrived at her bar. In-universe, Picard remembers the events of the episode Time’s Arrow, in which he met Guinan for the first time in the 19th Century. But because the timeline has been damaged, the 24th Century as we know it didn’t happen, which presumably means that the Confederation timeline version of Picard didn’t travel back to the 19th Century and never met Guinan. Time travel stories can be complicated, huh?

I enjoyed what Ito Aghayere brought to the role of Guinan. She played the character with a kind of world-weariness that I think a lot of us can relate to after a difficult few years. I didn’t expect that Picard Season 2 would spend much more time with Guinan after her short role in the season premiere – but I should’ve known from the fact that they made an entire new set for the bar that we weren’t only going to see it make a single appearance!

Ito Aghayere as Guinan in Watcher.

Having introduced Picard to the Watcher, setting up the next episode and presumably the next phase of the story, I’m not sure how much more time we’ll spend with Guinan. I hope this hasn’t been her sole appearance in this time period, though, as I feel there’s scope to spend more time with her and explore a little more of her past and her relationship with Picard. In Time’s Arrow we saw their first meeting from her point of view (although the shifting timeline has erased that, at least for now), but we’ve still never learned how they came to meet in the 24th Century, nor exactly why they struck up such a close bond. There’s scope to delve into that in more detail – if there’s time!

Because of the rushed ending to Season 1 and how that left a sour note, I’m conscious that the season is limited to just ten episodes – and while there have been interesting elements that I feel could be explored in more detail, overall I’d rather we got to the end of the story in a way that felt conclusive. If that means that some of these points of lesser importance don’t make it to screen, I’m okay with that.

Picard and Guinan.

One question I have about the Guinan story is this: if Time’s Arrow didn’t happen in this timeline, and Picard’s plan is to erase the Confederation timeline by preventing it from ever happening… will Guinan remember any of this? Or when the timeline is reset will she forget this meeting, and perhaps even this version of Earth? El-Aurians have a particular sensitivity to time, something Picard referred to in this episode as Af-Kelt, or time sickness, so maybe she’ll somehow be aware of two distinct encounters? I’m not sure… and it’s the kind of incredibly minor point that only Trekkies like us would get bogged down in!

As happened with Picard himself in Season 1, particularly at the beginning of the story, I can anticipate that some viewers will be put off by the disconnect between the previous presentation of Guinan as someone calm and ethereal with this new presentation of someone ready to give up on humanity. But just like with Picard, the point of this new presentation isn’t about where Guinan starts, but where she ends up. Even within the story of Watcher, Guinan already proved willing to listen to Picard, to help him when she learned who he was, and perhaps as a result we’ve begun to see that spark that we saw in Picard when Dahj helped set him on a new path last time. Even if Guinan makes no further appearances in the story, we’ve still seen in microcosm that narrative of someone who’d lost hope finding a glimmer of it.

Has Picard helped Guinan find a glimmer of hope?

I didn’t anticipate that the Watcher would be someone we knew. In fact I was a little taken aback by some of the online speculation in the days leading up to the episode’s broadcast about possibly Guinan being the Watcher, or maybe Soji, or perhaps someone from The Next Generation. People came up with some clever suggestions, but I felt sure that the Watcher would turn out to be a brand-new character. The fact that it was Laris caught me off-guard… and still leaves a lot of unanswered questions!

Some of these we’ll go into a little more detail on in my upcoming theory post, but in brief here’s what I’m wondering about: is this really Laris? By which I mean, is this character simply a younger version of the character that Picard will come to know as Laris in the late 24th Century? If not, is the Watcher simply assuming a form that Picard is familiar with – perhaps someone he loves? If it is Laris, that still doesn’t answer who she is and what she’s been doing with Picard all this time! Many of the suggestions I made last week – such as the Watcher being a member of the Q Continuum, a Prophet, or some kind of temporal agent – are all still in play based on where the episode ended.

The titular Watcher!

It was lovely to get a genuine surprise to close out a mysterious episode. Even though I’d seen speculation in the days before Watcher premiered, no one (at least that I’d seen, at any rate) had even suggested Laris might be the titular Watcher. Her inclusion at the end of the episode – seemingly in human form, no less – came as quite a surprise! The entire episode built up to this moment in a very clever way, and it was more than enough to feel like it ended on a high note.

So that was Watcher. It was a fine episode, a solid mid-season offering that moved several key storylines along but didn’t resolve any of them. There’s really only one drawback to Picard Season 2 right now, and for me that’s its modern-day setting. I’m sure there were reasons for this choice of setting – one of which, dare I suggest, may have been to keep costs down – but as I’ve tried to explain, such stories aren’t as enjoyable for me when I’m sitting down to watch Star Trek. I find myself wondering how long Picard and the crew are going to spend in 2024, perhaps even hoping that they’ll move on by the end of the next episode so we can get back to the 25th Century.

All that being said, I had a good time this week and I’m curious to see how the story will unfold. I’m about ready to see Rios reunited with Raffi and Seven of Nine, and I’m definitely curious to see more from Guinan and learn who the Watcher is and what they know! That’s not to mention Q… what’s going on with his powers? Stay tuned, because in the days ahead I’ll update my theory list, and I have a few ideas!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 3: Assimilation

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, Voyager, First Contact, and Discovery.

Assimilation was an episode with a very eerie title! It seemed certain that something big was going to happen – and Assimilation delivered. It was an explosive episode, but one that’s difficult to judge conclusively until we’ve seen more. Will all of the story threads that it teased lead somewhere significant? If so, we have a solid episode in Assimilation that’s set up this next phase of the season.

For the third episode in a row, Picard has introduced us to a different and interesting setting. In The Star Gazer we got reacquainted with Starfleet after spending the entire first season operating outside of it. That was ripped away at the end, and last week Penance introduced us to the Confederation timeline – a fascist dystopia that somehow managed to replace the Federation. Now, in Assimilation, we meet the strange new world of 2024. Three of the main characters had to adapt, while Picard and Dr Jurati remained behind.

Los Angeles, 2024.

In context, it gives the opening trio of episodes kind of an odd feel; a churn of different settings and scenarios, each familiar enough to feel very much like Star Trek, yet different enough to make me curious to see more. In contrast to Season 1, which built up its story slowly over the course of several episodes, Season 2 has jumped to three different and distinct places in the span of just three episodes – and we’ll have to see if this faster pace keeps up for the duration of the season, or whether things will settle now that the crew have arrived in 2024.

The cliffhanger ending to last week’s episode felt like a lot of fun at the time; a tease to keep us on the edge of our seats for a week! But the relatively fast resolution to the Magistrate and his goons having beamed aboard La Sirena left me wanting more from that premise – Picard and the crew had defeated (and vaporised) them within basically three minutes of the episode starting. It just feels like more could’ve been made of this – or, alternatively, it could have been skipped as it didn’t really add much to this week’s story.

The Magistrate meets his end thanks to Raffi.

One big thing that we got from the moment at the end of last week, though, was the injury to Elnor. I have to confess that I didn’t see his death coming, despite the bad way he was in this time last week. Unlike Discovery, Picard hasn’t been afraid of killing off its characters! Season 1 left quite a body count behind, including Dahj, Icheb, Hugh, Dr Maddox, and Rizzo – but for some reason I really didn’t anticipate Elnor’s death. For that reason, perhaps, it hit me quite hard and definitely left me shocked.

Raffi is convinced that restoring the timeline will restore Elnor to life – although it should be noted that she has no proof of that. Cutting down a character in their prime, while they have unfinished business and a lot to live for, is a relatively new phenomenon on prime-time television, lifted from the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones which had pioneered the concept that I call the “disposable cast.” Some characters in those shows – and others – gave me similar feelings to Elnor: that they were gone too soon, that I would have liked to see them continue to grow and develop. I won’t drop spoilers for the aforementioned shows if you haven’t seen them, but if you have you’ll know the kinds of characters I’m thinking about.

R.I.P. Elnor.

Elnor is slightly different, though, to the likes of some of the main characters from other contemporary shows whose deaths his is trying to emulate. Elnor is young and he clearly had a lot of life in front of him, so some of that sadness lingers now that the initial shock has worn off. But Elnor is, to be blunt, less well-developed as a character at this point in Picard’s run. He joined the crew at basically the halfway point of Season 1, and really only had one episode in which he played a major role last season. He was there for the mission, and he had a wonderfully emotional scene in the season finale that set up the nature of his relationship with Raffi, but his death hits more like Tasha Yar’s in The Next Generation than one of the main characters from a show like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. It was a shock, certainly, but despite the devastated reaction from Raffi, I wouldn’t say that Elnor leaves a gaping void in Picard that the show will struggle to fill.

Michelle Hurd put in an outstanding and complex performance this week, showing us a real and raw presentation of abject grief. For all I said about Elnor’s relative irrelevance to the show as a whole, he mattered a great deal to Raffi. His loss hits her like Icheb’s hit Seven in Season 1 – and I wonder if that will be a source of bonding between the two of them later in the season. Both lost surrogate son figures; of all the people that Raffi could turn to for understanding, support, and help, Seven is by far best-placed to offer that.

Michelle Hurd put in a riveting, emotional performance as Raffi this week.

It’s interesting to see Picard showing us this kind of presentation of grief, because that’s something that has been present in Discovery throughout its fourth season, which came to a close in very emotional style this week. Stay tuned for that review, by the way! Discovery took a look at themes of trauma and grief, and while it didn’t always pull it off perfectly or dedicate enough time to some of its characters, it was a significant part of the story of that series. Bringing grief into Picard gives the show a kind of thematic tie to Discovery that I wasn’t expecting, and it will be interesting to see if we get a different take on a similar concept here. Comparing how the two shows approach the subject will be interesting to see in the episodes that lie ahead.

I can’t tell at this stage if Raffi’s belief that Elnor can be resurrected is something that the series will pay off later in the season. Is she right about that? If so, the time-loop storyline will have a very Star Trek and sci-fi vibe to it. If not, will Raffi have to confront her grief and loss again when she returns to the 25th Century? I really can’t tell if this is an elaborate fake-out or if Picard has permanently killed off poor Elnor.

Elnor was introduced in Season 1.

We got a fairly common Star Trek trope to set up the next part of the story: the transporter malfunction! Seven and Raffi were able to successfully transport from wherever La Sirena crashed to Los Angeles, but Rios materialised two storeys up and had a hard (and very gory) landing on the pavement! This led, in turn, to another fairly common Star Trek time travel story: interacting with someone native to this era.

I wonder if Rios being separated from his combadge will be significant to the story. Could we learn, perhaps, that Rios’ badge is the point of divergence; if it fell into the wrong hands, could someone in 2024 use it to manipulate events to their advantage? That would result in the story being a kind of temporal paradox: Rios travelled back in time because Rios lost his combadge in the past – there’s no clear beginning or end point to such a loop. Paradoxes can be hard to get right – and they irk me, usually – so I kind of hope this isn’t the way that the story is going to go.

Rios’ lost combadge.

Still, Rios has a lot of work to do if he’s going to recover his badge! This side of the story felt quite politically charged, focusing on the issues of accessible, affordable healthcare and immigration, both of which are political hot potatoes in the United States. As a non-American, perhaps some of the nuances of that debate are lost on me, but I think the presentation of the clinic and later the police officers worked well; it succeeded at communicating the idea that this version of 2024 is rather dystopian, while simultaneously feeling uncomfortably close to reality. I’ve never seen a real-world immigration raid on a clinic, but I’ve seen enough news reports about police brutality in the United States to find this presentation believable.

The choice of 2024 may have some greater story significance that will be revealed as the season progresses, but in one significant way I think it’s already paying off. 2024 isn’t right now – it’s still two years away. Thus Picard is close enough to the present day that everyday objects look familiar, but it’s also just far enough into the future to say something like: there’s still time to avoid taking things to this extreme. In the case of the immigration raid and the overly-aggressive police, Picard is saying that yes, these things happen today, but we still have time to prevent this kind of thing from happening to a clinic in 2024. It’s simultaneously gritty realism but with that slight Star Trek edge of “things don’t have to turn out this way” that the franchise has always espoused.

The police raid on Teresa’s clinic.

As this side of the story continues, I think we’re going to see the immigration angle looked at in a bit more detail. Technically, Rios is “undocumented,” to use the contemporary term; he doesn’t have a 2024 US passport or work visa, so it seems like he’ll be in a bit of trouble with the authorities. What consequences that might have for the timeline are not clear, but it’s an interesting side-story that I hope Picard will have enough time to do justice to. A big topic like illegal immigration isn’t something that can be looked at for a few minutes in an episode or two; it needs proper development to avoid feeling tokenistic.

I enjoyed the new character of Teresa – the doctor at the clinic Rios visited. It can be difficult to set up a brand-new character if there’s limited screen time, but I felt that Teresa was believable; not overly virtuous as to feel like a one-dimensional paragon trope, and with enough complexity to feel like an authentic inhabitant of this version of Los Angeles. Sol Rodriguez did a great job bringing the character to life, and I hope we see more from Teresa next week.

Teresa with Rios’ combadge.

We also got our first connection to the Deep Space Nine episode Past Tense on this side of the story! The two-parter, which I put on my list of episodes that I thought could make good background viewing for Picard Season 2, also visited the year 2024. In that story, which is more than 25 years old now, Captain Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant found themselves in California in the same year as Picard and the crew of La Sirena! There were two mentions of Sanctuary Districts that I caught in Assimilation – one on a sign behind Raffi shortly after she arrived in Los Angeles, and another at the clinic with Rios. There was also a mention of “UHC cards” as Rios and Teresa were being arrested.

These oblique references to Past Tense could be all there is; little easter eggs to get Trekkies like us excited! There could be more to come, though, with the inclusion of a character called “the Watcher” who’s seemingly aware of time travel. We don’t know who this character is yet, though I think we’ve glimpsed them in one of the trailers, but it stands to reason that if they’re aware of time travel they might also know about Sisko’s temporal whoopsie! But that’s a theory for next time.

A sign that mentions Sanctuary Districts.

I loved the design of the tricorder that was used in this episode. Dr Jurati, while she was scanning the Borg Queen, used a tricorder that looked like a darker, updated version of the ones seen in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, and while it was subtle and not shown off on screen for a huge amount of time, it looked great! The design work this season has really leaned into The Next Generation era aesthetic in a much stronger way than Season 1 did, probably in part in response to some of the criticisms that the first season received.

This is a bit of a tangent, but I think that – based on the first three episodes, at least – if Picard had started with a story like this one, using more of those familiar design elements, the show would have been better-received. There’d still be critics – some anti-Trek social media groups literally make money by hating on Star Trek these days – but for viewers who tuned into the first few episodes and decided that Picard Season 1 “didn’t feel like Star Trek,” I really believe that a lot of that could have been avoided. Season 2 is doing a much better job of balancing the classic look and feel of The Next Generation era with a more modern style of television storytelling, at least in some ways, than Season 1 did.

The Confederation timeline tricorder.

On the Borg Queen side of the story, I’m not sure we saw quite enough in the first part of the episode to really set up the idea that Picard had to make a choice between saving the Queen and saving Elnor. It seemed to be something that the story raced past, and as a whole I’d say that Picard’s response to what happened with Elnor was perhaps a little cold. We’ve seen in dozens of stories in The Next Generation that Picard is pragmatic; he can look beyond the emotions present in a difficult moment and focus on what needs to be done. But here, especially given the way his non-response to the loss of someone close to him contrasts so strongly with how Raffi was feeling, perhaps we should’ve seen something from Picard to indicate how he was feeling.

One thing that might be controversial in Assimilation is the way that Dr Jurati was able to connect herself to the Borg Queen. This isn’t something we’ve seen before, and while the Queen was unconscious during the connection, it feels like an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Plugging oneself into the Borg Queen in any way seems like it opens up the door for her to connect to you – potentially assimilating Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati plugged herself into the Borg Queen.

If even one single Borg nanoprobe were to make its way down that cable, it could potentially replicate itself inside her body and assimilate her later on – and for all we know, that could be where the story is going to go in the weeks ahead! I didn’t dislike this idea, though. I felt it worked well as a story beat and gave Dr Jurati a dangerous mission of her own while the others went off to Los Angeles.

The interplay between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen in this episode carried on a theme from last time and is one of the most interesting dynamics in the series at the moment. I hope we get to see more of their sparring, and as a cyberneticist Dr Jurati has a very strong interest in all things Borg. That’s also something that the series could draw on to make this connection between them – now a physical connection – even more deep and interesting.

What will happen next in this evolving relationship?

I had gone into Assimilation expecting the dynamic between Picard and the Borg Queen to be one of the most interesting, but aside from a few lines that they had, the focus on this side of the story was more on Dr Jurati. If we think back to Season 1, Picard had to confront his past with the Borg in a very traumatic way. We saw that in the episode The Impossible Box first and foremost, where he suffered flashbacks and a kind of breakdown after beaming aboard the Artifact, but also in Et in Arcadia Ego, where he confronted xBs after the Artifact had crash-landed. Being called “Locutus” was incredibly disturbing for him then, but he seems to have largely gotten over that as of Assimilation.

Perhaps we’re in a “new season, new story” situation; the series already showed us Picard dealing with his Borg past, so this time around we’re going to look at different characters and get a different angle on things. That’s fine, and I find the relationship between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen truly an engaging and fascinating one. But it does feel a little odd, especially having recently re-watched Season 1, to see Picard rather unbothered by being face-to-face with the Borg Queen.

The episode didn’t spend a huge amount of time with Picard himself.

The Borg Queen is the embodiment of Picard’s worst nightmares; a reminder of the worst days of his life. She is, depending on how we consider her existence in different physical bodies, literally the person who inflicted the worst torture that he’d ever known. Being face-to-face with her feels like it should have more of an impact on Picard, and while I like the Dr Jurati angle and basically everything else in the story at this point, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a hole here.

We’ll have to look at this in more detail in my next theory post, but I wonder if the Borg Queen might be up to something in the 21st Century. Dr Jurati told us that she was trying to communicate while unconscious; could she be trying to contact other Borg, either across the galaxy in this time period or in the 25th Century somehow? Could the Borg have been responsible for the change to the timeline in the first place?

The Borg Queen in Assimilation.

I’m not sure yet where Picard is going with the “Seven of Nine likes the way she looks” angle. That might be an oversimplification, but I like that the series isn’t just using her changed no-implant look as a visual hook for the trailers and pre-season marketing material. After a lifetime of being treated differently for her residual implants, as she commented to Picard when they reunited in The Star Gazer, Seven seems to be enjoying a sense of newfound freedom.

The little girl who saw her materialise treated her like a superhero, whereas Seven has perhaps feared being seen as a supervillain, and that moment kind of encapsulated the way she’s enjoying the “normal” reactions from people. Perhaps this could be argued to be a comment from the series about the way Voyager treated Jeri Ryan – putting her in tight “catsuits” to try to capitalise on her physical appearance. It’s subtle, but perhaps this is Star Trek’s way of recognising a mistake from the past.

This little girl made a big impression on Seven of Nine.

Assimilation was a fast-paced episode with some emotional punches and plenty of strong, enjoyable moments. Picard Season 2 is off to a great start! But after three big changes of scene across the first three episodes, we need to start settling in and allowing the story to unfold. In a way I hope we haven’t seen the last of the Confederation timeline, as the setting is ripe for exploration, but we probably saw enough last week that, combined with Elnor’s death, has given Picard and the crew motivation to fix the damage to the timeline.

I’m wondering where Soji is – she’s been absent now for two whole episodes. I’m also wondering just how long Picard and the crew will actually spend in 2024: it doesn’t seem like they could be there for the rest of the season, especially with the unresolved Borg threat in the prime timeline. There are some fun relationship dynamics developing between Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen, between Raffi and Seven, between Rios and Teresa, and the anger Raffi feels toward Picard.

At this relatively early stage we’ve already been treated to three strong episodes that have kick-started the season. I hope Picard Season 2 can keep up this high quality!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 1: The Star Gazer

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, First Contact, and Voyager.

It’s been a long road… getting from there to here. Picard Season 1 wrapped up two years ago this month, but thanks to the pandemic it’s taken until now for the show’s second season to be ready. I said over and over again in late 2019 and early 2020 that Picard was the series I’d been waiting for for eighteen years! As a Trekkie who first fell in love with the franchise thanks to The Next Generation, returning to that era and spending more time with Jean-Luc Picard (and other familiar faces) will always be something that gets me excited!

The Star Gazer was beyond fantastic, and by the time the credits rolled I was sitting there with a big stupid grin plastered across my face. Though there were a couple of slightly clunky lines of expository dialogue, the episode was an incredible ride from start to finish, and I’m so pleased that the season’s pre-release marketing managed to keep such a big secret. I went into The Star Gazer completely unprepared for what I was about to experience – and what I found was one of the best episodes of live-action Star Trek that I’ve seen in a long time.

Picard and Laris relaxing at Château Picard.

Picard Season 1 had received some criticism for stepping away from the familiar 24th Century aesthetic that had defined the fifteen-year span that we call The Next Generation era, and the producers and designers have clearly taken all of that on board when crafting Season 2. The brand-new USS Stargazer recaptured that look, moving it along in subtle, incremental ways rather than throwing it out or trying to radically overhaul it. And both the CGI and practical designs used to bring that 24th Century look to life were absolutely perfect. Whether it was the design of the captain’s chair with its trademark cushion gap, the sleek lines of the helm and operations consoles at the front of the bridge, or the return to physical LCARS-based screens instead of an overreliance on holographic interfaces, this ship absolutely oozed “Star Trek” from every pore.

The fleet that assembled to face down the anomaly was also absolutely perfect. The Starfleet armada seen in the Season 1 finale was a copy-and-paste job, a large fleet but one comprised of only a single starship design. Again, the creators and producers took on board feedback provided by fans all around the world and changed things up, bringing to screen a smaller but far more visually impressive assortment of ships. The new design of the USS Stargazer is going to become iconic, I have no doubt, but there were also callbacks to past iterations of the franchise! I spied a Sovereign-class ship, a variant of the Excelsior-class, and at least one other that may have appeared either in Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War or possibly First Contact – alongside several new starships that I didn’t recognise. These ships all looked beautiful, with outstanding animation work used to bring them to life.

The beautiful and diverse Starfleet armada.

I don’t play Star Trek Online, so I don’t have the same connection that some fans of that game will have to some of the ships that appeared in the new fleet, but I’m so glad that the creatives reached out to the Star Trek Online team – the game even received a credit at the end of The Star Gazer. I’ve seen on social media that Star Trek Online has done a great job at designing ships – they’re one of the big in-game collectables – so it makes a ton of sense to work together on a project like this. The inclusion of Star Trek Online ships will mean a lot to fans of the game, and I’m so happy to see different parts of the Star Trek franchise linking up in this manner.

The biggest narrative beat that pre-release marketing had managed to conceal was the extent of the Borg’s return. Though the Borg vessel that subtitles identified as “Legion” was seen in the opening titles before it appeared on screen, the way in which the story unfolded was truly spectacular. Firstly, the emergence of a green-tinged anomaly set the scene. Green is a colour we’ve associated with the Borg since their early appearances, so this was the first hint that there could be Borg involvement. I also got just a hint – a feeling, maybe – that the anomaly had a vague resemblance to the beacon/portal that the super-synths used last season. Something about the edges of the anomaly, which were green here, looked at least slightly similar to the red portal seen in Et in Arcadia Ego, though that could just be a standard visual/CGI effect.

The USS Stargazer with the anomaly.

Next came the message being transmitted through the anomaly. It fell to Dr Jurati to clean up the message, which was in fact dozens of identical messages being broadcast all at once, but when she managed to isolate part of it, the voice that came through sounded eerily Borg-like. The distorted, mechanical voice had an inhuman quality, and reminded me of when we’ve heard the Borg send hails in past iterations of the franchise. No one acknowledged that in the moment, but it definitely felt like our second hint!

After Picard responded to the message, a large ship emerged. I’m glad it wasn’t a typical Borg cube; the design of this “Legion” vessel was phenomenal. The mechanical arms and insect-like design made it feel immediately threatening, like some kind of nightmarish monster, and its metallic grey exterior bathed in green light meant that we knew it was Borg long before Seven of Nine confirmed it.

The Borg vessel identified in subtitles as “Legion.”

I absolutely adore the design of this “Legion” ship. There were echoes of the Borg Queen’s complex that we saw in episodes like Dark Frontier and Endgame in the latter part of Voyager’s run, and although the design itself was new, it immediately felt “Borg” to me, and I would think that most longstanding Trekkies would have similar reactions. As with many Borg vessels, “Legion” is huge, towering over the entire Federation fleet that had been sent to meet it, employing a sense of scale that we seldom see in Star Trek outside of the Borg.

While we’re talking about designs, let’s also celebrate the brand-new USS Stargazer! The new ship borrowed from the original Constellation-class design which debuted in The Battle, a Season 1 episode of The Next Generation, but evolved it and took it forward. The familiar saucer-plus-four-nacelles design is still present, but the ship incorporates a number of aesthetic elements seen on vessels like the Prometheus- and Sovereign-classes. Not only that, but it shoots forward beyond those to feel like a brand-new design that’s even more highly advanced than those ships, both of which are now 25 years behind the times!

A front view of the new USS Stargazer.

It’s wonderful that the creative team was able to build new sets for the Stargazer instead of relying on redresses of Discovery’s. On re-watching Et in Arcadia Ego, for example, the bridge of the USS Zheng He is noticeable as Discovery’s bridge – the captain’s chair in particular. So to see a brand-new set making full use of 24th Century design elements was absolutely fantastic. As mentioned, I loved the return to LCARS screens in place of holographic interfaces, and the Stargazer’s bridge felt like what I’d expect and want to see from the bridge of a Starfleet ship of this new era.

There were new uniforms to accompany the new ships and other aesthetic changes, but they were similar enough to last season’s design that I didn’t feel the change was too obtrusive. I had placed the Picard Season 1 designs on my list of my favourite Starfleet uniforms, and this new variant keeps most of the aesthetic elements that I found most appealing about them.

Raffi sporting the gold variant of the new uniforms.

When I first saw the new uniforms shown off in a couple of promotional images, I wondered if they might’ve been a dress variant; they seemed to employ a style that didn’t seem out-of-place when compared to The Next Generation’s dress uniforms, and the fact that the couple of promo images that I saw seemed to feature officers at Starfleet Command could’ve meant that they weren’t the usual uniforms! But it seems that this design has been widely adopted by Starfleet as their main uniform as of the year 2400 (or is it 2401?)

Strange as it may sound, I actually get a bit of a Lower Decks vibe from the uniform jackets. I doubt that was intentional, and the idea of a uniform jacket over an undershirt is something we’ve seen going all the way back to The Wrath of Khan’s “monster maroon” uniforms! The mostly-black affair with coloured shoulders to denote division is neat, and it’s perhaps Star Trek’s most commonly-seen uniform design, having been seen in several seasons of Deep Space Nine, all of Voyager, and the film Generations. The Season 1 uniforms updated that basic concept, and the Season 2 uniforms feel like another iterative step from the same starting position.

The blue science variant as worn by the USS Stargazer’s communications officer.

Of course, having dedicated all of this time to talking about the Borg, the Stargazer, and new Starfleet uniforms, we’re not actually going to be spending a lot of time with them – at least as things stand! So let’s take a look at the episode’s story – because I think it’s one of the strongest season-openers in the Star Trek franchise.

Last season, I wrote that Remembrance was almost certainly the strongest premiere episode of any Star Trek show. It probably even eclipsed Emissary – the premiere of Deep Space Nine – which had been the previous high-water mark. Remembrance was a slow-burn episode with some fast-paced moments. It kicked off the story, but it didn’t introduce every character or every narrative thread, and it played its cards close to its chest. The Star Gazer, in contrast, started with a bang! The sequence at the beginning of the episode was explosive and action-packed, and really gave us a taste of what was to come.

The opening shot of the episode.

The action then jumped back by 48 hours, and it was here that we slowed down and got more of those Remembrance vibes. Picard and Laris at the vineyard, a trip to Starfleet Academy, Picard’s dreams or reminiscences about his mother… all of those slower-paced moments felt great, and stood in stark contrast to the thrilling conflict with the Borg that bookended the episode.

I don’t want to compare The Star Gazer and Remembrance and try to say which was better. I don’t think there’s an answer to a question like that – as with other “which was better” questions in Star Trek, the answer to me is that they’re both fantastic in their own ways and both represent different kinds of stories. There’s a time when I want the slower pace of a story like Remembrance, just like there are times when I want other slower episodes or films. Then there are times where I want action and excitement like The Star Gazer delivered, and I don’t think it’s fair to say “this one was better than that one.” Both season openers do what they do exceptionally well, and trying to choose between them is always going to be something subjective. Not only that, but the answer will depend on what I’m in the mood for at a given moment!

Sparks flying and a phaser blast during the action-packed episode.

In terms of The Star Gazer itself, the episode naturally put Picard at its centre, but all of the other main cast members got something to do. The only character who felt somewhat off to one side was Soji, who seemed to be taking part in some kind of diplomatic mission. I couldn’t tell if her Federation emblem combadge – which, by the way, is an awesome concept – means that she’s working for the Federation directly, or whether her mission to the planet Raritan IV was on behalf of the synths from Coppelius.

The callback to the Deltans – a race not seen since The Motion Picture over forty years ago – was a neat one, and it was nice to see them make a return. Like the reference to the Kzinti last season, Picard is drawing on some of the lesser-known parts of Star Trek’s canon. It’s possible that Soji is looking for a permanent home for the synths; she mentioned that “we” – i.e. she and someone else or a group – had been touring the galaxy since the ban ended, and with the unclear status of the Zhat Vash and Romulan attitudes to synths, it’s at least possible, in my opinion, that the synths might’ve had to leave Coppelius in order to keep themselves safe.

Soji and the Deltans.

After their adventures with Admiral Picard, and the discovery of what really happened during the attack on Mars and aboard the USS Ibn Majid, both Raffi and Rios have rejoined Starfleet. Raffi’s last name – Musiker – was heard aloud for what I believe is the first time, which was pretty neat, and I like the way that Starfleet appears to have accepted them both. Both characters had fallen quite far as a result of what happened to them, but being proven right in Raffi’s case and discovering the truth for Rios seems to have settled them both, and set them on a pathway to rejoining the organisation.

In that sense, both characters have had comparable arcs across the series so far – with significant events taking place in the year or so of time that passed off-screen! In both cases, though, seeing them doing well, feeling stable, and having jobs with responsibility that they could take pride in was incredibly sweet; we saw both at such a low ebb, at points, that it feels fantastic to see how the events of Season 1 ultimately led to something positive for both of them.

Captain Rios and Commander Musiker spoke very briefly.

Dr Jurati’s role is a little less clear; she was wearing a similar Federation emblem to Soji and was clearly working with her as part of her synth-adjacent mission, but in what capacity I’m not sure. She doesn’t seem to have continued to work with Dr Soong building new synths, and the question of whether it’s even possible to continue to build synths without Data’s neurons wasn’t addressed – and may not be any time soon.

Dr Jurati probably got the least successful lines of dialogue in The Star Gazer – her scene at the bar with the unnamed Deltan was very heavy on exposition. Such lines are necessary sometimes, though, and we did get a fair amount of information about Dr Jurati and Rios having broken up and how she’s not in legal jeopardy for killing Dr Maddox, both of which were open questions as the new season began. Given the time-jump (and just how long it’s been in between seasons for casual viewers who may not remember everything that happened) I guess some exposition was inevitable, and it was a short enough conversation to be inoffensive.

Dr Jurati at the bar.

When Dr Jurati and Rios were together on the bridge of the Stargazer, I didn’t really feel the whole “never speak to me again” vibe that she and Soji had just been discussing. Santiago Cabrera and Alison Pill have great chemistry together, but in their moments together on the bridge leading up to the Borg or “Legion” message being received I didn’t really buy that they’ve just been through what sounded like an acrimonious split. Of course it’s possible for couples who have broken up to work together and maintain a level of civility and professionalism – but this seemed to be more than just that; they felt rather like friends. Perhaps it’s teeing up something that will be featured later in the season!

Is it a nitpick to ask why Captain Rios asked Dr Jurati to decode the message instead of giving the Stargazer’s literal communications officer time to do her job? I guess it probably is! And I liked the way the scene unfolded, with Dr Jurati clambering across the bridge in a very non-Starfleet way – still feeling the effects of the drinks she’d been having at the diplomatic reception! The way she cleared up the message and was able to pull out an intelligible voice was pure Star Trek, and reminded me of similar scenes with characters like Uhura and Worf in past iterations of the franchise. The only difference was we got to see a fairly detailed look at what she was doing this time, thanks to a holographic display.

Dr Jurati decoding the message from “Legion.”

Elnor joining Starfleet reminds me of the Nog storyline in Deep Space Nine, and I think it has potential. It certainly wasn’t a direction that I was expecting for his character, but it definitely beats returning to Vashti with the nuns – both as a story beat and, I’m sure, from Elnor’s point of view too! Being the first of his race to enlist could pose unique challenges – particularly in light of the difficult relationship between the Federation and the Romulan Empire/Romulan Free State following the attacks on Mars and Coppelius – and it will be interesting to see if we learn much more about his decision to apply to the Academy, what role he sees for himself in Starfleet, and how his studies at the Academy are progressing in the episodes that lie ahead. Nog found Academy life difficult, at first, as a Ferengi; there’s scope for an interesting story about a clash of cultures, perhaps.

Nog’s journey from petty thief to Starfleet officer was one of the best character arcs in Deep Space Nine – and in all of Star Trek, certainly up to that point in the franchise’s history. Elnor doesn’t start from quite such a lowly place, but it still feels like development for his character. Elnor was occasionally comedic in Season 1 – thanks in no small part to his rather sheltered and unique upbringing – but going to Starfleet Academy and learning new skills could set him up for having more to do in Season 2.

Cadet Elnor.

The only character who arguably regressed at the start of Season 2 was Seven of Nine. She hadn’t fallen back to her Voyager characterisation (thank goodness), but she was definitely back in her role as a Fenris Ranger; a vigilante operating outside of Starfleet’s jurisdiction and with much of the same passion – and anger – that we saw in Season 1. After the mission to Coppelius, I might’ve expected her to be working with the ex-Borg; there were still a number of survivors after the Artifact landed on the planet, and without Hugh or Soji they don’t really have an advocate. Seven of Nine seemed to be moving toward that role at times in Season 1, particularly in episodes like Broken Pieces and Et in Arcadia Ego – but if she did spend time with the xBs, that part of her life seems to be over.

With the Borg returning in what seems to be a pretty major way, there’s scope for the story to return to the Artifact and the xBs. The question of what happened to them is an interesting one that I’d be happy to see explored, and we now also have the idea of Starfleet using Borg technology in their new ships. That particular plot point has already proven to be very important, and I wonder whether we’ll go into more detail about that at some point this season.

Seven of Nine watching the Borg ship emerge.

When I first saw First Contact at the cinema in 1996, the Borg Queen was certainly a villain that I found intimidating. But whether it was in First Contact or her appearances in Voyager, I never had quite the same visceral, fearful reaction as I did to her appearance in The Star Gazer. The cloaked, hooded figure, dressed all in black, was absolutely terrifying, and the designers deserve so much credit for bringing a completely new style to this character. After more than thirty years as a Trekkie, I love that the Star Trek franchise can still evoke such reactions from me – even when returning to themes and characters we’ve seen before. There was something of the Grim Reaper in this robed design, and I think it combined with the mechanical elements to create a truly scary presentation.

The Borg work so well as villains because of how oversized, overpowered, and unstoppable they seem – and The Star Gazer punched us in the face with all of those things. The scale of the “Legion” ship, as previously mentioned, and its design were big parts of that, but the way the Borg Queen herself appeared – how her transporter beam could cut through the shields with ease, depositing her on the bridge, and then how she used her mechanical tentacles to seize control of the ship – all of these things ramped up the fear factor, and for the first time really since Enterprise’s second season episode Regeneration I felt that our heroes were in real danger from the Borg.

The Borg Queen.

Mechanical tentacles are new for the Borg Queen, but they make perfect sense. The Borg are organic-machine hybrids, so giving them abilities and tools that humanoids wouldn’t have is perfectly logical – when you think about it, it’s surprising we haven’t seen something like it before! The look of the Queen’s appendages reminded me of oversized assimilation tubes – the kind we’d often see shooting out of Borg drones’ hands or wrists to assimilate unlucky crew members. And that makes sense given what the Queen was doing – she was basically trying to assimilate the ship.

In the days ahead I’ll have to write up some theories about what’s going on with the Borg. It was implied that the Collective has been weakened – perhaps as a result of the actions of Admiral Janeway in the Voyager series finale, but that wasn’t made explicitly clear. It seems as if the Federation has been able to observe or spy on the Borg since the events of Endgame, at least enough to know that they’re in a weakened state, but whether there’s been any further Borg-Federation contact wasn’t clear either. Have we seen the first hints that the Borg might be on their last legs, though? That’s an interesting thought to consider…

The Borg vessel’s transporter beam attack on the USS Stargazer.

There was definitely something amiss with the Borg, and not just their claim to wish to speak with Picard or to join the Federation – a ludicrous idea, surely? I got the sense that this was some kind of desperation play on the Borg’s part, not only because of what their message said, but because of the way the Borg Queen was said to be stunning, rather than killing, the crew of the Stargazer. Whatever she was trying to do, she wanted to stop the security team interfering – but either lacked the will or the strength to kill them. Were they being stunned to be assimilated later? Or were they being stunned, not killed, as some kind of gesture of goodwill?

Even if we are dealing with a vastly weakened Borg Collective, they still possess technology that can outdo anything the Federation has. And we got a payoff, of a sort, to one of the big storylines from last season – the use of Borg “parts” and Borg technology. Apparently it was a bad idea to incorporate Borg tech into Federation ships… who knew?

Seven of Nine explained how the USS Stargazer has Borg-based technology.

There’s actually a very interesting real-world parallel here, and it’s one that harkens back to the original presentation of the Borg. As I wrote in my essay The Borg: Space Zombies a while ago, the Borg draw on many of the same ideas that inspired zombie fiction. The frightening idea at the core of an enemy like the Borg is our innate fear of losing ourselves and suffering a fate worse than death. Metaphorically, the Borg can be argued to represent an extreme form of brainwashing, something that here in the west we always accused the communists in the east of doing to their citizens. The Borg, created in the late 1980s at a time when Cold War jingoism had made a comeback, can be read as an American view of Soviet communists – brainwashed to all think alike, having no volition, no independence, and no freedom.

Here in The Star Gazer, we get to see how the Federation used Borg technology in their ships, and how that led to a “backdoor” for the Borg Queen to exploit. In recent years we’ve heard accusations levelled at companies like Huawei that they’re doing something similar. Popular social media app TikTok was even criticised for this, and there’s been a fear for the last few years of granting Chinese companies “too much” access to communications and technology here in the west. In the UK, for example, Huawei was recently denied the opportunity to construct the nation’s 5G mobile network, and another Chinese company was set to be replaced as an investor in a large nuclear power plant, with similar concerns being cited.

Moments like this draw on past and present socio-cultural phobias and anxieties.

This is Star Trek at its best – using a sci-fi lens to touch on (or at least glance at) real-world issues. The idea of foreign companies or agencies potentially having “backdoor” access to important infrastructure is a very contentious one, as governments try to balance the need for investment with their concerns about hacking and cyber-warfare. In this most recent depiction of the Borg, we got to see a very “Star Trek” take on this concept. The Borg can certainly be seen as a manifestation of western fears about communism, so to include them in this kind of story about hacking, cyber-warfare, and technological “backdoors” based on their technology is one I take an interest in!

If you missed my essay on the Borg, you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

The music in The Star Gazer is worthy of a mention! It included a number of familiar musical motifs and melodies from past iterations of the franchise. I heard parts of the familiar theme from The Next Generation as well as figures and stings from The Original Series and First Contact. The episode also made great use of classical music to open Soji’s reception, a funky jazz number to set the scene at Guinan’s bar, and a haunting rendition of the classic French ballad Non, je ne regrette rien in the moments before the Stargazer’s self-destruct sequence was activated.

Picard, moments before the destruction of the USS Stargazer.

Speaking of the self-destruct, was it odd that Captain Rios didn’t order the crew to abandon ship? With a ten-second countdown, maybe most of them wouldn’t have had time – and those on the bridge would have stayed regardless – but perhaps some of those down on the lower decks, if they were lucky enough to be near an escape pod, might’ve been able to escape if they’d heard the order. It’s a very minor point in some respects in the context of the story, but it struck me as odd that the order wasn’t given.

I did like, though, that Picard’s authorisation code was exactly the same as Kirk’s in The Search for Spock. That callback was a really neat one, and one that seems to confirm that all admirals – even newly-reinstated ones – have the authority to set a ship to self-destruct. As the flag officer, the destruction order fell to Picard, even though the Stargazer was under Rios’ command, which is another point of note.

The Borg Queen with her new tentacles.

The discussion in the conference room was a genuinely interesting one, showing different perspectives on the Borg. If we assume that the Borg are in a weakened state because of what happened in Endgame, this meeting could be years in the making. The question I have is one of timing – are the Borg making this move now, singling out Picard by name, because they know he’s now a synth? Perhaps that’s something to save for my next theory post!

Seven of Nine was arguing for attacking the Borg ship outright, whereas Picard and Dr Jurati were seemingly willing to hear what they had to say. For Picard, who had been aggressively anti-Borg during the events of First Contact, and who was still processing his Borg trauma in Season 1, this feels like a pretty big step. Perhaps he’s pushing his feelings down, trying to remain objective and level-headed, willing to give the benefit of the doubt, even for a second, to an old and very personal enemy. I’m not sure. I think it worked well, though, and this felt like the Picard we remember – he wouldn’t sanction exterminating an enemy while they asked for help. He couldn’t support the Federation’s decision to withdraw and stop helping the Romulans, and he wouldn’t consider firing first on the Borg here for the same fundamental reason.

Seven of Nine, Dr Jurati, Captain Rios, and Admiral Picard in the Stargazer’s conference room.

Picard’s other role the story was an interesting one. The setup for The Star Gazer used Picard’s lack of romantic entanglements during The Next Generation as its basis, asking the question: “why?” Why has Picard remained unattached throughout his life? Even going as far back as his time as an ensign, as shown in the episode Tapestry, Picard’s story mostly avoided sex and relationships – though he did strike up relationships with an officer under his command, Nella Daren, in the episode Lessons, with Anij in Insurrection, and of course came close with Dr Crusher.

It seems as though an exploration of Picard himself is going to be part of the story, figuring out why it is that he’s remained single and unattached throughout most of his life. We’ve seen Picard as someone dedicated to his work, but it seems as though The Star Gazer is suggesting there’s more to it than that. It would be very interesting if the answer was that Picard is asexual – perhaps even aromantic or on the aromantic spectrum – but I somehow doubt that’s the direction the story is going! It seems as though his unwillingness to commit to a relationship might be anchored to an event in his past, possibly something to do with his mother.

Picard’s mother, Yvette, seen in a dream.

It was this idea – of embracing a new relationship and learning to love – that Guinan called Picard’s “one final frontier yet to come.” At least part of Picard’s story is going to be tackling whatever this past trauma is and overcoming it. Laris seems to be waiting in the wings for him if he can get to that point, which is certainly an interesting development in and of itself! I’d assumed that Guinan must have been referring to time travel when we heard that line in one of the recent trailers, so it was interesting that The Star Gazer took things in a very different direction.

Guinan also said that this was one of the few things that she and Picard had never discussed. It was great to see her back in this kind of unofficial counsellor role; the shoulder to cry on for Picard as he considered the situation between himself and Laris. We’ve seen Guinan willing to listen and offer advice to many characters – from Wesley Crusher to Data – on subjects like romance, so she felt like a natural fit for this side of the story.

Picard talked with Guinan.

The one thing I’m trying to put out of my mind, speaking as someone who’s asexual, is the idea that Picard is going down a somewhat familiar path. By saying that everyone must want a romantic and presumably sexual relationship, and that if they don’t they must offer some reason or justification – such as past trauma – to explain themselves, some stories in this mould can feel a tad uncomfortable sometimes. It depends how it plays out, and of course I never say that any character must be openly made to be asexual or aromantic! But it’s a trope that some stories can fall into.

As I was struggling with my own asexuality, television shows like The Next Generation and others in the Star Trek franchise held such an appeal for me specifically because the characters didn’t seem to spend all day every day trying to hook up or have sex. The idea that a character like Picard could be “like me” was an appealing one then, and even though he had relationships and near misses over the course of the show’s run, there was a distinction between him and Captain Kirk in that respect, or with other characters like Riker who were much more forward in their romantic liaisons. I’m absolutely interested to see what happened in Picard’s past that might’ve dissuaded him from pursuing a relationship, though, and I think such a story could go far deeper than a potential relationship with somebody like Laris.

Picard with Laris.

As we saw in Season 1, Picard has a tendency to disappear from peoples’ lives. Whether it was Raffi, Elnor, the Romulans on Vashti, Hugh, or even Riker and Troi to an extent, Picard left them to their own devices when he encountered a problem he couldn’t solve; when his diplomatic skills failed him. We also saw as far back as The Next Generation that Picard kept most of his crew at arms’ length, trusting them but not being as close or friendly with them as Captain Kirk had been or as we’d see Captain Janeway be.

These things could be explained by a deeper dive into Picard’s past and his psyche. It could be connected to something in childhood – something to do with his mother. Or it could be something that’s tied to other events in his past, such as his time aboard the original USS Stargazer. We know that Dr Crusher isn’t going to appear in Season 2, so that seems to rule out the most significant event from the Stargazer that we know of – the death of Beverly’s husband Jack Crusher – but it’s certainly very interesting that the new season has brought back the name Stargazer. Is that a coincidence, or will there be some connection to the original ship?

Will Laris be a love interest for Picard going forward?

There’s a lot to unpack, and my amateur hour Freudian analysis won’t do the trick! We’ll have to wait and see how this side of the story plays out – or whether it will be sidelined as Picard has to deal with Q’s shenanigans!

Speaking of Q, his inclusion in The Star Gazer was small, coming right at the end, but it was one of my favourite moments in the entire story. The dynamic between Q and Picard has real nuance and depth that takes it far beyond a simple “good-guy-versus-bad-guy” conflict. Q, despite his attitude and provocations, often seems to act out of curiosity – and even, as I’ve theorised, to be helpful. In his own way, Q sees himself as Picard’s friend and ally – and while we’ve seen hints that that might change, I certainly hope that there’s more to Q than just being a straight villain during Season 2.

When Q was first teased sometime last year, I wrote a piece here on the website saying that his appearance can change at will. In that piece I argued that, although the Star Wars franchise and others were doing fun things with digital de-ageing, I didn’t see a need for it in Star Trek, and that an older Q was fine with me. But when I saw the de-aged face of Q standing behind Picard I almost lost my mind. It looked fantastic, and although Q soon aged himself up to catch up with Picard, those few seconds of digital de-ageing made such a tremendous impact on the episode.

The de-ageing of Q is one of my favourite moments in the whole episode!

As this kind of technology continues to become more accessible, the potential for using CGI characters or de-aged characters becomes practically limitless, as we’ve seen over in the Star Wars franchise with shows like The Book of Boba Fett. Q was absolutely the perfect character to use this technique with, because he can change his appearance in any way he chooses. It fits with his impish sense of humour, too, that he’d want to look older to match with Picard – so to see him appear as we last saw him and then voluntarily age himself up was the perfect way to use this complicated visual effect. I absolutely loved it – it was one of the moments that won the biggest smile from me in The Star Gazer!

There were plenty of smaller references and callbacks to past iterations of Star Trek. The Star Gazer crammed an awful lot into its fifty minutes – and I wonder if that’s because the jump to a different timeline and the mission back in time will mean that fewer such overt references will be possible in the episodes that lie ahead. The display at Starfleet Academy included a number of different familiar ships – and Raffi and Elnor were assigned to the USS Excelsior, which may be a new, refitted, or updated version of the ship first seen in The Search for Spock and later commanded by Captain Sulu.

Picard and Raffi by the starship displays – the USS Excelsior can be seen behind Picard.

The speech that Picard gave at the Academy felt like it was one he could’ve delivered at any time in The Next Generation, and really confirmed that he was back to his old self after a decade away from Starfleet and galactic affairs. I loved seeing his story in Season 1 – a story that shows us how heroes can fall, how depression can strike anyone, and how there is hope to find better days ahead. That story was a powerful one, and one absolutely worth telling. But this speech felt like it was drawing a line under that particular chapter of Picard’s life.

After his “rebirth” in a new synthetic body, Picard seems to have fully regained his passion for Starfleet, and while the whole Laris situation has definitely thrown him – as we saw through his conversation with Guinan – it was wonderful to see him getting back to his old self, enjoying his time with Starfleet again. Taking up a role as Chancellor of Starfleet Academy feels like the perfect next move for Picard in terms of his career, and again I felt this was handled perfectly within the story. Raffi said it was an excuse for Picard to get stuck into his work and ignore working on himself – but we all need things to do, sometimes, to distract ourselves! That doesn’t have to be the wholly negative thing it was presented as.

Back in uniform!

The Borg Queen’s intervention has completely changed things, though. Was it, as Seven of Nine suggested, simply an act of deception on the Borg’s part, using their technology to attempt to assimilate Federation ships in order to get back on their feet? Or is there something more going on? My gut says the latter – that we wouldn’t have heard from people like Dr Jurati, nor seen Picard willing to consider what the Borg had to say, if ultimately the story was going to be one of Borg deception and another attack on the Federation. But those questions are open right now, and the story could go in all manner of different directions from this point.

Though there can be mitigating circumstances, I’m never wild about a character being killed off-screen, which was unfortunately the fate that befell Zhaban. I don’t recall it being stated outright in Season 1 that he and Laris were married; I certainly didn’t get that impression. But if they were, it makes sense that he’d need to be shuffled out of the way to free up Laris and set up this romantic sub-plot and/or this dive into Picard’s past and personality. I would have liked to get a better goodbye with Zhaban, though, as he was an interesting character in his appearances last time.

Laris walking away from Picard.

I think we need to wrap things up – or I’ll never get anything else written! I adored The Star Gazer. It was the return to the world of Star Trek: Picard that I so desperately wanted, washing away the underwhelming end to Season 1 and setting the stage for what I hope will be a new and exciting story. It was dripping with nostalgia – but not so overloaded with it that it drowned out the plot. There’s a balancing act between doing something new and relying on what came before – and The Star Gazer nailed it.

There were so many fun callbacks and references to Star Trek’s past – not only from The Next Generation, but practically the entire franchise! I’m sure I’ve missed many of them, even after re-watching the episode a couple of times.

Picard in a new timeline…

In terms of the look, sound, and feel of The Next Generation-era of Star Trek, I cannot fault The Star Gazer. The diversity of ships, the inclusion of ships from Star Trek Online, the design of the Stargazer’s bridge, the familiar musical motifs, the LCARS screens and panels, even the angled walls to the ship’s hallways – all of it felt absolutely pure Star Trek, and I adored every second I spent with Picard and the crew.

The Star Gazer also set up a story of inner conflict for Picard – one that interests me and has me curious to learn more. What happened to him in the past; what shaped his life to bring him to this point? And is it about to be changed or meddled with somehow – either by Q or someone else? Why did he seem to hear his mother’s voice speaking to him through the Borg Queen moments before the Stargazer blew up? Was it because the Borg had assimilated his mind in the past and were trying to manipulate him… or is there some other connection that will be revealed?

I cannot wait for the next episode – titled Penance. After such a strong start, I hope it can reach the high bar that The Star Gazer has set. If the rest of the season is this good then we’re in for one of the best sci-fi adventures I’ve ever seen.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 0

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and the trailers and teasers for Season 2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, First Contact, Deep Space Nine Season 3, Voyager Season 7, and Discovery Seasons 3-4.

The new season of Star Trek: Picard kicks off later this week! After a two-year wait since Season 1 ended, it feels so good to finally be just days away from another adventure with the crew of La Sirena. During Picard Season 1 I wrote up a list of theories that was updated after each new episode, and this season I wanted to do something similar. Because news, information, and teasers have trickled out about Picard Season 2 over the past couple of years, I have a few theories already – and this week we’re going to start my Picard Season 2 theory list by looking at each of them in turn.

Several of these theories have had longer write-ups elsewhere on the website, and you’ll find links to some of those articles as we go. As always, a caveat: I have no “insider information,” nor am I trying to claim that anything listed below will be part of Picard Season 2! If you followed along last season, or if you’ve been keeping up to date with some of my Discovery theories, you’ll know that I get things wrong! For me, that’s part of the fun, and taking time away from the real world to dive a little more deeply into Star Trek is something I find enjoyable. But no fan theory is worth getting too attached to or too upset over!

With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the list.

Theory #1:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

This one really comes from what we know about the production side of things! Picard Season 3 is already in production, and filming appears to have kicked off almost the minute work was done on Season 2. That leads me to think that the two seasons could form one continuous story – or, at the very least, that the final act of Season 2 will set up the story of Season 3.

Star Trek has a track record of cliffhangers going all the way back to Season 1 of The Original Series with the two-part episode The Menagerie. There have also been a number of season-ending cliffhangers, including in The Next Generation, with the most famous, perhaps, being The Best of Both Worlds. So I think it’s at least possible that Picard Season 2 will draw to a close in this fashion!

Theory #2:
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.

A model of the USS Stargazer.

This is a theory that the very first Season 2 teaser kicked off almost a year ago! The image above, taken from that teaser, was a lingering shot of a model of the USS Stargazer in Picard’s study, and while we’ve seen glimpses of what appears to be a new USS Stargazer in some of the most recent clips and teasers, I think it’s still plausible that the original vessel will show up at some point.

Time travel is on the agenda, and while we know for a fact that Picard and the crew of La Sirena plan to visit the year 2024, that may not be their only destination. If the damage to the timeline is connected, somehow, to an event in Picard’s past, maybe it will be necessary to visit his time as captain of the Stargazer as part of that storyline. The Stargazer could also be seen in flashbacks, or even as a museum ship!

Check out a longer article about the USS Stargazer by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #3:
There will be some kind of crossover with Star Trek: Discovery.

The USS Discovery in the Season 4 episode Rubicon.

One thing that I find a little odd right now is the scheduling of Picard and Discovery. For the next three weeks, the two shows will be broadcast on the same day, which doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that 1) they’re shows with relatively short seasons, and 2) Paramount+ is a streaming platform. Does that mean there’s a glimmer of hope for some kind of larger-scale crossover than either show has attempted so far?

I suspect I’ll be proven wrong on this one, and that it’s simply due to the inexplicable nonsense that we’ve come to expect from Paramount+ and parent company Paramount Global. Someone has evidently decided that “Thursday is Star Trek day,” and that’s inflexible no matter what. That still doesn’t explain why Picard Season 2 couldn’t be delayed by a measly three weeks, though – especially with the constipated international rollout of Paramount+ potentially meaning that Strange New Worlds will premiere in the USA weeks or months before Paramount+ arrives in Europe. But we’re off topic!

In short, one possible explanation for the odd scheduling could be because the two shows are planning some kind of crossover event; if so, I’d love to see it! And with time travel on the agenda, anything is possible, right? At the very least, I hope that Picard Season 2 will put in more of an effort to connect with Discovery than happened in Season 1.

Theory #4:
There will be a reference to Gabriel Bell or Sanctuary Districts.

Dr Bashir and Commander Sisko in Past Tense.

According to the latest trailer, Picard Season 2 will be paying a visit to the year 2024… but it isn’t the first Star Trek production to visit that specific year! If Picard Season 2 wanted to visit “the modern day,” why not pick 2022 – or 2021 or 2023? 2024 feels like it could hold some kind of significance, and though there have been a couple of other references to events in the 2020s, the Deep Space Nine third season two-part episode Past Tense has already taken us to 2024.

The biggest event that we know of took place in California – the Bell Riots. I don’t necessarily expect to see the Bell Riots depicted all over again, but we could get some kind of reference to Gabriel Bell – the man who led the riots. There could also be mentions of “Sanctuary Districts,” which were areas built to house homeless people that became overcrowded prisons.

Given the current problem with homelessness in some American cities – including in California – it could be an interesting point of social commentary to revisit some of the themes tackled by Past Tense. That episode’s depiction of the 2020s feels a little too close for comfort to the state of the real world, in some respects!

Theory #5:
The Borg Queen will be necessary for time travel.

The Borg Queen in one of the Season 2 trailers.

One aspect of the Picard Season 2 story that I can’t place right now is the inclusion of the Borg Queen. In a story that seems not to be all about the Borg, what role might she play? To answer this question I wonder if we need to step back to the events of First Contact. In that film, the Borg Queen was present during a mission to assimilate Earth in the 21st Century… so could it be that Borg Queens have a special ability to travel through time that other Borg lack?

If so, perhaps the Borg Queen will be necessary to facilitate time travel, or at least to precisely calculate a destination in time. The explanation could be that time travel is possible but imprecise, and the Borg Queen has some kind of unique ability to hone in on a specific point in space-time that makes precise jumps through time possible. This wouldn’t be entirely inconsistent with the way time travel post-The Original Series has been depicted… so watch this space.

When the Borg Queen was initially teased, I had a bunch of ideas for ways that the Borg as a whole could be included. But when the season’s time travel story seemed to take up such a significant part of the marketing campaign I dropped most of them in favour of this one!

Theory #6:
Dr Jurati will unleash the Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen and Dr Jurati.

Sticking with the Borg Queen, we’ve seen several teases and clips that seem to show the Borg Queen on the loose. If the Borg Queen was originally a captive – as the trailers have seemed to suggest – the question of how she was able to break free raises its head. It’s of course possible that the Borg Queen is smart enough and powerful enough to break out of her confinement on her own, but she might also be able to convince someone to help her.

Dr Jurati is the cyberneticist that we met in Season 1, and she has a real love for all things synthetic. She wasn’t able to carry out her mission of harming Soji because her love and curiosity about synthetic life overwhelmed her Zhat Vash mind-meld, and I wonder if her innate fascination and sympathy for synthetic life could make her a target of the Borg Queen.

If so, perhaps Dr Jurati is able to be convinced to (literally or metaphorically) loosen the Borg Queen’s restraints, accidentally letting her loose on La Sirena.

Theory #7:
The captive Borg Queen is the same one from First Contact.

The Borg Queen in First Contact.

At the end of First Contact, Picard and Data managed to stop the Borg Queen. The Queen’s organic components were destroyed by plasma coolant in the Enterprise-E’s main engineering, but her synthetic parts – including her skull and part of her spine – remained intact. Picard appeared to break them at the end of the film, signifying the “death” of the Borg Queen.

However, the Borg Queen returned on several occasions, most notably in Voyager, seeming to confirm that there are multiple Borg Queens, or that the Queen is able to move her consciousness into a new body at will. It’s possible, then, that the captive Borg Queen in Picard Season 2 was found elsewhere, such as aboard the Artifact. But it’s also possible that the Queen from First Contact was not totally dead, and has been revived or reactivated in the years following the events of the film.

Theory #8:
Elnor will be assimilated.

Raffi and Elnor.

This theory stems entirely from a clip glimpsed in two of the recent trailers! In the image above, Elnor can be seen clearly injured with Raffi by his side. What’s interesting to note, though, is the eerie green light – green is a colour that has a strong association with the Borg. Could it be that Elnor has been attacked by the Borg Queen and is in the early stages of being assimilated?

That was definitely how I interpreted the clip on first viewing! I can’t tell if it’s taking place in La Sirena’s sickbay or somewhere else, though. Regardless… I hope that poor Elnor survives whatever’s happening to him! There are ways of surviving or reversing Borg assimilation, so there’s hope for Elnor even if the worst comes to pass.

Theory #9:
Q is not responsible for changing or damaging the timeline.

Did Q really damage the timeline?

The teasers and trailers for Season 2 seem to place the blame for whatever’s going on firmly at the feet of Q. But I would argue that the role of an out-and-out villain doesn’t really fit with Q’s prior characterisation, where he’s been challenging and adversarial, but usually to make a point or to push Picard to solve a mystery. Q’s god-like powers would also make him ill-suited to fill the role of the season’s overarching villain; with a snap of his fingers he could undo any victory Picard could hope to win.

I’ve always felt that Q sees himself as a friend, ally, and guide to Picard – and to humanity in general. That doesn’t fit with becoming a super-villain, and with so much teased about Q in pre-release marketing material, I have to assume that there’s more going on than meets the eye. We can’t have been introduced to the entire plot already, surely?

I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #10:
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.

Q in one of the trailers for Season 2.

One way in which Q could be involved would be to protect Picard – and his new crew – from changes to the timeline. There are many reasons why he might do this, and it could apply regardless of whether Q changed the timeline himself or not. If the entire timeline has been changed going back centuries, there has to be a reason why Picard and the crew of La Sirena are seemingly the only ones unaffected – and one explanation for that could be “Q’s magic.”

This would be in line with how we’ve known Q to operate. Episodes like Tapestry and All Good Things saw him use his powers to place Picard in an alternate life while retaining his original memories, and to move between three different time periods. Such a power is something we know Q can use, and it would explain two key things: how Picard and the crew of La Sirena remained unaffected, and how Q is involved in the story.

Theory #11:
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?

Did the Borg do it?

If Q isn’t the one who changed the timeline, the obvious question that raises is “who did it?” In the days ahead I might put together a longer list of suspects, but for now I have a few suggestions!

In theory, it could be any one of a number of different Star Trek factions. We’ve seen the Klingons having access to time travel in the early 25th Century, for example, in the Voyager episode Endgame, and various time travel stories and stories depicting powerful alien races could all theoretically yield suspects. But considering what we know about Star Trek: Picard specifically, in my view the main suspects are as follows:

  • The Borg. We know the Borg have the ability to travel through time, and that they’ve weaponised that ability on more than one occasion.
  • The Zhat Vash. While the Zhat Vash may not have been shown to possess time travel tech, they were the primary antagonist last season, and arguably were not defeated in the Season 1 finale.
How about the Zhat Vash?
  • The super-synths. The super-synths from the Season 1 finale are a wildcard; we don’t know much about them except that they seem to be technologically powerful. Travelling back in time might be on their agenda – but erasing the prime timeline could result in the erasure of the Coppelius synths.
  • The Romulan government or the Tal Shiar. With or without the support of the Zhat Vash, the Romulan government could have taken action against the Federation in response to the events of Season 1.

There are undoubtedly other Star Trek factions who could be implicated, and if we had a free choice we could suggest the likes of the Dominion or the Sphere-Builders. But I think those are far less likely when considering the elements Picard has brought on board.

Theory #12:
Picard and the crew will have to actively trigger World War III to save the future.

World War III soldiers as glimpsed in Discovery Season 2.

Although the Bell Riots are the main event of 2024 that we know about in Star Trek’s internal timeline, the 21st Century was arguably dominated by another event: World War III. The war may have kicked off as early as 2026 (as suggested in The Original Series) and concluded by the mid-2050s as seen in First Contact. The “post-atomic horror” that followed was the backdrop for Q’s trial in Encounter at Farpoint.

World War III is integral to Star Trek because without it, it’s hard to see how warp drive would’ve developed and how humanity would’ve made peaceful first contact with the Vulcans. Just like the end of the Second World War brought about major technological and societal changes that ultimately made the world a better place, Star Trek’s World War III is integral to the events that led to the founding of the Federation. If it were prevented, the timeline would change dramatically.

So my theory is that the point of divergence is the outbreak of World War III – meaning that it will fall to Picard to trigger one of the worst wars in human history in order to save the future. Talk about a moral dilemma! You can find a full write-up of this theory by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #13:
The “totalitarian state” will be run by Khan and the augments.

Picard in the alternate timeline.

The alternate timeline that is established in Picard Season 2 will see the Federation replaced by a “totalitarian state.” This faction appears to be superficially similar to the Terran Empire from the Mirror Universe (though I hope not too similar, as I’m not the biggest Mirror Universe fan!) At the very least, this faction is not as genteel as the Federation and may be governed in an autocratic, dictatorial style.

Based on his appearances in The Original Series and The Wrath of Khan, we know that this is how Khan governed – or intended to govern – when he held power. It’s possible, then, that the totalitarian state that we’ve glimpsed in the trailers and teasers is led or inspired by Khan, and may be a society in which augmented humans hold power.

This could be supported by the introduction of a new member of the Soong family – played by Brent Spiner. The Soongs were known to have researched and studied human augmentation prior to the 22nd Century.

Theory #14:
There will be a connection between the augments and Strange New Worlds.

One of the few things we know about Strange New Worlds at this early stage is that there will be a character named La’an Noonien-Singh. This new character seems to be related in some way to the iconic villain Khan, and if Khan or Khan-inspired augments play some kind of a role in the “totalitarian state,” perhaps that will set up a connection – or even a crossover – between Picard Season 2 and Strange New Worlds.

Theory #15:
The “totalitarian state” is an isolationist power.

A portrait of the alternate timeline version of Picard.

Rather than being one part of a Federation, or the conquering force behind an Empire, it seems possible based on what we’ve seen so far that the “totalitarian state” is only comprised of humans on Earth. This could mirror Discovery’s isolationist Earth in the 32nd Century, and it would be interesting to look at the state of the galaxy if humanity remained isolationist and refused contact with other races. There could also be an allegory about some of our current political movements.

It will be very interesting to learn more about this faction. Who exactly it is, how it rose to power, and what role the alternate timeline version of Picard played in its power structure are all open questions at this stage, and I’m very curious to see how it will all unfold!

Theory #16:
Romulans are spying on Earth in the 21st Century… and could be time-travelling Zhat Vash.

A young boy encounters a Romulan or Vulcan.

In the third trailer, a young boy wearing what seemed to be 21st Century clothing was seen encountering a Romulan or Vulcan. If the Zhat Vash are involved in the new season’s story somehow, perhaps this individual is a Zhat Vash operative, and could confirm that the Zhat Vash were able to travel through time, or send a message back in time to their 21st Century counterparts. The Romulans had achieved interstellar flight centuries earlier, so travelling to Earth to spy or place operatives seems plausible for them.

Of all the scenes we’ve glimpsed so far from Season 2, the one with the young boy and the Romulan or Vulcan is the one that I’m least sure about! It doesn’t seem to fit naturally into a story about the Borg, Q, and time travel… but this is one theory that could make sense, and would connect to the theory above about Q not being to blame.

Theory #17:
The Vulcans are on Earth in the early 21st Century… as stated in Discovery Season 4.

A meeting of senior Federation and allied officials in Discovery Season 4.

Another theory about the unnamed Romulan or Vulcan is tied into the most recent episode of Discovery. This could easily be a complete overreaction to a throwaway line, but at the beginning of The Galactic Barrier, mysterious Federation leader Dr Kovich stated that Vulcans were on Earth for decades prior to official first contact taking place.

This one line could be a reference to Carbon Creek, an episode of Enterprise that saw Vulcans crash-land on Earth in the 1950s. But the timing seems odd given the scene glimpsed in the Picard Season 2 trailers! If the character seen above is a Vulcan, perhaps there will be a connection of some kind between Discovery and Picard.

Theory #18:
Guinan will be aware of the shifting timelines.

Picard with Guinan in the Season 2 trailer.

Though clips with Guinan that we’ve seen so far seem to suggest that she and Picard will meet prior to his new mission or during the very early stages of it, one thing we know for sure about Guinan is that she has a sense of when the timeline has been changed or damaged. We saw this in The Next Generation Season 3 episode Yesterday’s Enterprise most prominently, and it could come into play again here.

This could set up Guinan to be an advisor to Picard; she could be the one to tell him, for example, roughly when she thinks the timelines were changed or when the point of divergence was – potentially setting up the entire mission to the past!

Theory #19:
Laris and Zhaban will join Picard’s new mission.

Laris and Zhaban in Season 1.

Laris and Zhaban – Picard’s Romulan friends who lived with him at his vineyard – didn’t accompany him on the mission to track down Bruce Maddox and Soji, despite their skills potentially being very useful. If there’s another dangerous mission in the offing, will they be left behind again? I hope not!

We’ve already glimpsed Laris in some of the trailers for Season 2, and it seems as though she will have an expanded role, which is great. Although she and Zhaban filled a narrative role in Season 1 (being the familiar faces of home that Picard had to leave behind on his adventure, similar to the residents of Hobbiton in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) it never sat right that Picard had two ex-Tal Shiar operatives on his side and just… ditched them! So maybe Season 2 will right that wrong.

Theory #20:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

The crashed remains of the Artifact.

Because of the rushed nature of its final two episodes, Season 1 left a lot of unfinished story elements behind. Some of these will be solvable with a line or two of dialogue, and it would be great if Picard Season 2 could at least make an effort to draw a line under some of the unresolved, underdeveloped points at the end of Season 1.

Here are the main ones, as I see it:

  • What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
  • Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
  • Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
The super-synths’ mechanical noodles.
  • Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
  • With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
  • Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
  • What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
  • Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?
  • Were there legal consequences for Dr Jurati?

Theory #21:
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.

The cast of The Next Generation Season 4.

With the return of Guinan and Q, as well as Voyager’s Seven of Nine, there are already a lot of returning characters in Picard Season 2! But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a well-placed cameo or two, or even an episode like Season 1’s Nepenthe that steps away from the main story to revisit classic characters.

There are so many characters from Star Trek’s past that I would love to spend more time with; listing them all here would be impossible! But if Picard is to end with Season 3, as some outlets have been reporting, it would be fantastic if the crew of The Next Generation could reunite one last time.

I have a list of possible character crossovers that I wrote back in 2020, before we got to see any teasers or trailers, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

So that’s it!

La Sirena is warping onto our screens very soon!

With Picard Season 2 now just days away, those are my main pre-season theories. I have no doubt, though, that Picard Season 2 will bring new and unexpected storylines into play, so I hope you’ll tune in every week to see which theories get debunked and which new ones emerge as the story gets rolling!

I’m excited to see ex-Admiral Picard and the crew of La Sirena return. Getting back to the 24th Century had been my biggest Star Trek wish for almost twenty years, and we’ve now got three different shows in that time period! Whatever happens this season, and regardless of whether any of my theories pan out, I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll get a fun, engaging story.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will premiere on the 3rd of March on Paramount+ in the United States and on the 4th of March on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Twelve Star Trek episodes to watch before Picard Season 2 arrives!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and the trailers and teasers for Season 2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Original Series Season 1, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine Season 3, Voyager Seasons 2, 3, and 7, and First Contact.

It seems an age ago that we were eagerly anticipating Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard. In those sunlit, rosy days before the pandemic hit, this website was brand-new, and I spent a lot of time in December 2019 and January 2020 looking ahead and wondering what we’d see when the Star Trek franchise finally returned to the 24th Century – after an eighteen-year wait!

With Season 2 of Picard now only days away, I thought it could be fun to revisit a concept from the early days of the website: a list of episodes that I think could make for interesting background viewing, potentially informing story points and characterisations in the new season of Picard. In the run-up to Season 1 I focused on episodes of The Next Generation that strongly featured Captain Picard himself, as well as a few stories about the Romulans, and a few more stories which could’ve potentially led to big changes in the two decades following the events of Endgame and Nemesis.

We’ll soon be on another adventure with Jean-Luc Picard!

This time, we have a little bit more information to go on! Season 2 will tell a story that involves (to a greater or lesser degree) the following elements: the Borg Queen, Guinan, Q, time travel, and, of course, Admiral Picard himself. On this occasion, then, I thought it could be fun to pull out twelve stories from Star Trek’s past that might just be useful background viewing for Season 2 of Picard. It goes without saying that Season 1 is mandatory viewing, so I’m not putting any of those episodes on this list! You should really watch, or re-watch, all ten before the season kicks off!

My usual caveats apply, as they always do! Firstly, everything listed below is entirely subjective. If I miss out an episode that you think is incredibly important, or you hate all of my picks, that’s okay! We all have different opinions about Star Trek, and there’s no need to fight about it. Secondly, I don’t claim to have any “insider information.” I’m basing my theories and guesses about Season 2 on publicly released material, such as trailers and interviews. And finally, the episodes are not ranked; they’re merely listed below in the order in which they were originally broadcast.

With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the list!

Number 1:
Tomorrow is Yesterday
The Original Series Season 1 (1967)

I’m pretty sure this violates the Temporal Prime Directive…

Though The City on the Edge of Forever is perhaps the best-known of The Original Series’ time travel stories, Tomorrow is Yesterday preceded it by several months. It was the first episode of the Star Trek franchise where time travel played a major role in the story, and it was also the first in which the crew paid a visit to the modern day. Tomorrow is Yesterday established what went on to become a mainstay in terms of the franchise’s time travel story tropes: being sent back in time by accident!

Aside from being a fun episode in its own right and well worth a watch, Tomorrow is Yesterday is also the episode which introduced the Star Trek franchise to something that appears to be making a return in Picard Season 2: the slingshot method of travelling through time, referred to in this episode as the “light-speed breakaway factor.”

The USS Enterprise using the “light-speed breakaway factor” to travel through time.

Almost every Star Trek series has included the occasional time travel story, and we can look to episodes like Tomorrow is Yesterday for creating that premise. Visiting the modern world would go on to be significant later in The Original Series, in Star Trek IV, and on several other significant occasions in the franchise. For me, some of these stories can feel rather dated, but I think Tomorrow is Yesterday largely avoids that trap!

As we get ready for Picard Season 2 and the franchise’s latest foray into time travel, stepping back to see where it all began during the first season of The Original Series is no bad thing. Tomorrow is Yesterday has a fairly straightforward premise that should be easy enough to follow even for fans who aren’t as familiar with The Original Series, and is well worth a watch on its own merits.

Number 2:
Encounter at Farpoint
The Next Generation Season 1 (1987)

Judge Q.

In the first teaser trailer for Picard Season 2, we heard Q’s voice proclaiming that “the trial never ends.” Encounter at Farpoint is the episode in which Captain Picard first encountered Q, and the episode in which the referenced “trial” began. Q accused humanity (and by extension, the Federation) of being a “dangerous, savage, child-race” who are unfit to travel the stars. Picard and his crew defended themselves against the accusation.

The task Q set for Picard was to unravel the mystery of Farpoint Station, which he and the crew of the Enterprise-D were en route to. However, figuring out the puzzle wasn’t the end of the trial, and even after bringing the Farpoint saga to a successful conclusion, Q departed in ambiguous fashion, hinting that he would return. He did, of course, on a number of occasions!

Worf, Picard, and La Forge on the bridge of the Enterprise-D.

Encounter at Farpoint was the premiere of The Next Generation and established the characters of Picard and Q (as well as many other familiar faces). As we approach Picard Season 2, it’s worth going back to see where it all began. This was the first big puzzle that Q tasked Picard with solving, and seeing how Q operates and what the point of it all is, from his perspective, is well worth taking into consideration.

This is also the beginning of “the trial.” We don’t know to what extent the idea of Picard – and humanity – being on trial will feature in Picard Season 2, but if Q has returned to set up a new mystery there could be a connection – and there could be consequences if Picard and the crew of La Sirena can’t figure it out. Q has toyed with Picard on a number of occasions; Encounter at Farpoint was the first.

Number 3:
Q Who
The Next Generation Season 2 (1989)

Q threw Picard and the Enterprise-D into danger.

Q Who is the episode that introduced us to the Borg – and it’s a pretty scary one by Star Trek’s standards! Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D have never faced a villain like this, and the Borg represent an existential threat. Q made good on his promise to show Picard that there are dangers in the galaxy that he couldn’t even imagine… and eighteen members of the Enterprise-D’s crew paid the ultimate price.

In a way, Q Who shows Q at his most aggressive, devious, and villainous. By throwing the Enterprise-D into the path of the Borg, he proved his point to Picard about the Federation’s unpreparedness in the most painful way possible. But I don’t believe that’s all there is to the story.

The first Borg seen in Star Trek.

I have a theory about Q Who that you can find by clicking or tapping here. To briefly summarise: Star Trek has made a mess of the history of Borg-Federation contact, and it seems likely that the Borg were already aware of humanity and Earth long before the events of this episode. They may have already been preparing for an attack or assimilation attempt, and Q hoped to prevent that by giving the Federation advance warning.

My theory goes into much more detail! But suffice to say the complicated history of contact between humanity and the Borg makes it seem plausible, at least to me, and shows off an aspect to Q’s character that I think could come into play in Picard Season 2. Q Who also establishes the existence of history between Q and Guinan – something that may come up in Picard Season 2 given that both characters are returning.

Number 4:
Yesterday’s Enterprise
The Next Generation Season 3 (1990)

The Enterprise-C.

Though it’s a fantastic episode in its own right, Yesterday’s Enterprise is on this list for one reason: Guinan. When a rift in the space-time continuum sends the Enterprise-C forward through time, decades’ worth of history are changed, leaving the Federation in a very bleak timeline in which it’s fighting a losing war against the Klingons.

Aboard the warship Enterprise-D, Captain Picard and the rest of the crew are completely oblivious to the change; this version of the characters have only ever known the war timeline. But Guinan alone realises that something has gone wrong, and argues with Captain Picard about how to set things right.

Guinan presents her case to Captain Picard.

Despite a recent controversy, Whoopi Goldberg will be reprising the role of Guinan in Picard Season 2, bringing the character back for the first time since Generations in 1994. Given that we know Season 2 also features a radically changed timeline, not dissimilar to the one seen in Yesterday’s Enterprise, perhaps Guinan will be aware of the change.

Guinan could be the one to talk to Picard about the possible point of divergence, as we know she’d visited Earth in the 19th Century. She may also be one of the only people other than the crew of La Sirena to be aware that something has changed. Guinan also has a history with Q, as we saw in the episode Q Who – so that could also come into play!

Number 5:
Time’s Arrow Parts I-II
The Next Generation Seasons 5-6 (1992)

R.I.P. Data…

Guinan also plays a key role in the two-part episode Time’s Arrow. Thanks to time travel, this is the episode where she and Captain Picard actually have their first meeting, and although the nature of their relationship is still shrouded in mystery, we get a little bit more information about how they came to meet in the first place.

Guinan’s fascination with Earth appears to date back to at least the 19th Century, as she visited undercover during that time period. We know from the most recent Picard Season 2 trailer that Guinan appears to be running a bar on Earth at the dawn of the 25th Century, giving her an association with Earth and humanity that stretches back over five hundred years.

Guinan and Picard in the 19th Century.

Time’s Arrow is an interesting story that mostly focuses on Data, who was of course a huge part of the story of Picard Season 1. It seems as though Brent Spiner will be playing a new role in Season 2 – perhaps another ancestor of the Soong family – so getting a bit of extra data on Data could be worthwhile, too!

One thing I’m personally curious about in Picard Season 2 is if we’ll get any further backstory on the Picard-Guinan relationship. Although Time’s Arrow depicts their first meeting from Guinan’s perspective, we’ve still never learned how they came to meet in the 24th Century from Picard’s point of view. All we know is that it likely happened prior to his assuming command of the Enterprise-D. I don’t know if Picard Season 2 will expand on that in any way… but it would be interesting!

Number 6:
Tapestry
The Next Generation Season 6 (1993)

Q and Picard.

Tapestry is a really interesting episode that deals with the dynamic between Q and Picard, and specifically looks at the nuances present in their relationship. Picard has always viewed Q as an adversary, but I’ve argued in the past that Q doesn’t see himself that way. He views Picard as a friend, and himself as a guide or even an ally – and the way Tapestry unfolds kind of shows why that is.

When Picard is injured on an away mission, he finds himself close to death. At that moment, he encounters Q – who claims he’s already dead. Q gives Picard a chance to avert his death by changing a key event in his past – getting stabbed shortly after graduating from Starfleet Academy – but doing so sets Picard’s life and career on a completely different path.

Lieutenant Picard in an alternate 24th Century.

The important thing here is how Q views the whole affair. We can entertain debates on whether or not Q actually sent Picard back in time or whether it was all an elaborate illusion, but that’s entirely beside the point. Q genuinely believed that he was helping – that by showing Picard an alternate life, he gave him an appreciation for the life he had actually led, even if that meant it was about to end.

I firmly believe that there’s more going on with Q in Season 2 than meets the eye. It’s possible that he didn’t change the timeline at all, and is merely responsible for shielding Picard and the crew of La Sirena from it. It’s also possible that he did change it as part of an elaborate puzzle, one which he hopes and expects that Picard will be able to solve. Speaking of which…

Number 7:
All Good Things…
The Next Generation Season 7 (1994)

Q and Picard in the distant past.

All Good Things is the best example of this aspect of the dynamic between Picard and Q, and could – in theory – be a template for the events of Picard Season 2. In All Good Things, the Q Continuum sets a puzzle for Picard – an eruption of “anti-time.” Thanks to the time-travelling interventions of Q, Picard is able to hop between three different periods of his own past to solve the mystery.

The solution to the anti-time eruption required Picard to challenge his own way of thinking, specifically his linear perception of cause-and-effect. Being able to recognise that events in the future had a causal link to events in the past greatly impressed Q, who seemed to suggest that it was the first step on a path that could one day see humanity evolve into beings comparable to the Q themselves.

Q in his judge’s robes.

All Good Things was also Picard’s last dalliance with Q prior to the events of Picard Season 2. As far as we know at this stage, Q hasn’t been to see Picard in the approximately twenty-five years since the events of All Good Things – but that could change as we get into the new season. It’s possible, at least in my opinion, that Q might’ve been interested to see Picard at his lowest ebb, possibly showing up to see if he could provoke him into action. But we’ll save a detailed explanation of that for my next theory post!

It’s possible that the trailers and teasers for Season 2 have already revealed the nature of Q’s involvement in the story: that he is directly responsible for changing the timeline, he did so on purpose, and he will be the main villain of the season. But I would argue that the “villain” monicker does not fit with Q’s past characterisation, and thus I suspect that there’s much more going on than meets the eye. All Good Things is both a piece of evidence in favour of that argument, as well as a potential blueprint for how a time travel puzzle set by Q could unfold.

Number 8:
Past Tense, Parts I-II
Deep Space Nine Season 3 (1995)

Dr Bashir and Commander Sisko.

We know, thanks to a voiceover in the most recent trailer, that at least some of the events of Picard Season 2 take place in the year 2024. But Picard Season 2 isn’t the first Star Trek production to visit that specific year! In Deep Space Nine’s third season, Commander Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant found themselves accidentally sent back in time to the exact same year.

Past Tense is an interesting story, as it will mark the first time that any episode of Star Trek set in “the future” at the time it was broadcast will be reached, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in doing a full write-up of its story when we hit the end of August 2024! We could talk for hours about how its depressing presentation of the 2020s seemed a long way from reality once upon a time, but with the growth of homelessness and other economic issues, today’s society feels far too close for comfort to the world of the Bell Riots.

The USS Defiant in orbit over Earth.

I’m not sure how much of Deep Space Nine’s presentation of a fictionalised 2024 will make it into Picard Season 2. It’s possible that the new series will entirely ignore this two-part episode… but I think we should keep an eye open for references or callbacks to some of the characters, events, or even things like brands and products.

Regardless, this will be the first time that two very different Star Trek productions have travelled back in time to the same year, and it might be interesting and informative to take a look at Past Tense to see how Deep Space Nine told us that the year would unfold. It seems as though Picard Season 2 will be set, in part, in California – which is also where Past Tense was set, so that’s another point of connection. I’m not expecting a huge crossover with this one single Deep Space Nine story, but there could easily be references made to it.

Number 9:
Death Wish
Voyager Season 2 (1996)

Two Qs?!

Captain Picard wasn’t the only Starfleet officer to tangle with Q. After making a sole appearance in Deep Space Nine, Q hopped over to the Delta Quadrant, where he had several run-ins with Captain Janeway during Voyager’s journey home. Q presented a bit of a puzzle for Voyager; his abilities mean that he could have sent the ship and crew back to Earth with a snap of his fingers. But if we can look beyond that narrative hurdle, Q’s appearances in Voyager added a lot to his characterisation.

In Death Wish, we got our best look to date at the Q Continuum itself. Depicted in a manner that humans could comprehend, the Continuum resembled a rather dilapidated roadside house in the middle of the desert. For the first time, we got to see more members of the Q Continuum as well, and got a glimpse of how Q himself is a bit of a radical by the standards of his people.

Captain Janeway and Tuvok visit the Q Continuum.

The idea that the Q Continuum is not an entirely stable, homogeneous place is an interesting one, and was explored in more detail in the episode The Q and the Grey. But Death Wish also presented a very complex moral question – in the longstanding tradition of Star Trek! This episode can be a difficult watch for some folks because of its discussion of suicide, and it’s absolutely fine to skip it if that subject hits too close to home. If the debate around suicide and end-of-life care is something you’re interested in, though, this is a uniquely “Star Trek” attempt to tackle it.

Q emerges from this story as a reformer – or even a radical – by the standards of his people. We also know, thanks to a line in All Good Things, that he was responsible for assisting Picard when the Continuum set the anti-time puzzle. It’s stories like this that make me think that there’s a goodness in Q; that he isn’t just a trickster or a pure villain.

Number 10:
Future’s End, Parts I-II
Voyager Season 3 (1996)

Chakotay, Janeway, Tuvok, and Paris on Earth.

The two-part time travel story Future’s End sees Captain Janeway and the crew of the USS Voyager sent back in time to Earth, circa 1996. It’s another story set in the California area, and I think it’s an interesting episode – albeit one that I feel has become very dated by Star Trek standards!

If Picard Season 2 sticks with things like the Borg and the slingshot method, it seems that the kind of time travel depicted in Future’s End won’t be a factor. But there are still interesting points to consider, such as the Temporal Prime Directive and how Starfleet in the future would come to police the timeline, watching out for changes.

It’s Los Angeles – where Picard and the crew of La Sirena appear to be headed!

There aren’t a great many Star Trek episodes that visit the modern day, and as I’ve already explained I feel that a modern setting can make such stories feel very out-of-date very quickly. Future’s End definitely falls into this trap; its depiction of Southern California has a very ’90s flavour. But it’s a bit of fun, and dare I say almost a guilty pleasure!

I’m including Future’s End here for its modern day time travel story and its focus on California, both of which are elements that we know will be part of Picard Season 2. As with Past Tense, I don’t expect to see a huge tie-in between the new season and the events of this episode, but there may be smaller callbacks and references to some of the characters and events it depicted.

Number 11:
Star Trek: First Contact
Film (1996)

The Borg Queen.

First Contact introduced us to the Borg Queen for the first time, and went into a lot more detail about Picard’s assimilation experience. The Borg Queen was presented as the embodiment of the Borg rather than their leader, and she became a fearsome adversary for Picard and Data over the course of the story.

Season 1 of Picard saw the retired Admiral face his lingering Borg assimilation trauma when he beamed aboard the Artifact in the episode The Impossible Box, but Season 2 will see him come face to face with a Borg Queen for the first time in twenty-five years. For someone who’s clearly suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress, we don’t know what effect that could have.

Data and Picard lead the battle against the Borg.

Picard was violently anti-Borg in First Contact, and we saw hints of that in Picard Season 1 as well. His conversation with Dr Jurati and Elnor in The Impossible Box, as well as the way he responded to some of the xB’s in later episodes, was in line with his attitude to the Borg in First Contact – and I wonder how encountering a Borg Queen will make him feel!

Many Trekkies hold up First Contact as one of the absolute best Star Trek films, and it’s hard to disagree. As an action-packed work of sci-fi with some truly scary elements thanks to the way the Borg are depicted, it’s an exciting ride from start to finish. It also goes into a little more detail about World War III – an event in the history of the Star Trek timeline that could play a role in Picard Season 2. Check out my full World War III theory by clicking or tapping here!

Number 12:
Endgame
Voyager Season 7 (2001)

Some of Voyager’s crew in an alternate 25th Century future.

Almost five years after First Contact depicted the Borg’s biggest attack on Earth to date, Endgame brought back the Borg Queen in a significant way. The interventions of a time-travelling Admiral Janeway from the future saw the USS Voyager make it home to Earth, and in the process dealt a significant blow to the Borg Collective.

Even though it’s been more than twenty years since Endgame, we don’t actually know what became of the Borg in the aftermath of Admiral Janeway’s attack. I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective was large enough, clever enough, and adaptable enough to survive the neurolytic pathogen that she introduced into the Borg Queen… but because the Star Trek franchise has yet to return to the Borg post-Endgame, we can’t be certain of that.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

Even Season 1 of Picard, which depicted the disabled Borg Cube known as the Artifact, didn’t settle the issue. So it’s an open question at this juncture whether the Collective survived, whether it was significantly damaged by Admiral Janeway’s pathogen, or whether it was able to easily shake off the attack. It seems as though no major Borg activity occurred in Federation space in the twenty-plus years after Endgame, though.

Endgame makes this list because of the Borg Queen’s role in Picard Season 2, and I think it could be very useful background viewing, possibly even setting up a story about the Queen herself or the state of the Borg Collective at the dawn of the 25th Century. On a vaguely related note, I took a deeper look at Admiral Janway’s actions in Endgame, and you can find that article by clicking or tapping here.

So that’s it!

Admiral Picard is coming back in just a few days’ time!

Those are twelve episodes (alright, eleven episodes and a film) that I think might make for useful or interesting viewing prior to Picard Season 2! I think we’ve hit most of the key subjects – at least, those that we’re aware of at this early stage – and got a good mix of stories focusing on Captain Picard, Q, Guinan, time travel, and the Borg Queen.

At the end of the day, though, Star Trek’s past didn’t prove all that important to unravelling the events of Picard Season 1 – nor to recent storylines in Discovery, either. So it’s quite likely, in my view, that Picard Season 2 will bring plenty of brand-new characters and story elements into play. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth going back to these stories and others, but my suspicion at this stage is that the new story won’t rely excessively on what came before.

When Picard Season 2 arrives at the end of next week, I hope you’ll stay tuned for individual episode reviews, theories, and more. Despite the somewhat underwhelming end to Season 1, Picard Season 2 has been one of my most-anticipated shows for almost two years, and I can’t wait to jump in and have another adventure with Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States on the 3rd of March 2022, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and elsewhere 24 hours later. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Whoopi’s “whoopsie” – what might it mean for Star Trek: Picard?

This article deals with the subjects of the Holocaust and racism and may be uncomfortable for some readers.

It goes without saying that the Holocaust is an incredibly sensitive and delicate subject. Even titling this article Whoopi’s “whoopsie” might be enough to seem flippant or even offensive to some folks – but I just couldn’t resist the pun. If you haven’t heard about this controversy, I’ll briefly recap what happened before we get into some analysis and a consideration of what – if anything – it could mean for Star Trek: Picard Season 2.

Whoopi Goldberg, who plays the role of Guinan in the Star Trek franchise, is the co-host of The View, an American daytime television talk show. She’s known in that context for being bold and outspoken, particularly on issues of race in the United States. On a recent episode of The View, Goldberg made controversial remarks about the Holocaust, claiming that the event “isn’t about race” because it concerned “two white groups of people.” I encourage you to view the full exchange in context (you can find it on YouTube) but suffice to say that controversy soon ensued – and the condemnation of Goldberg’s comments even reached mainstream news outlets on this side of the Atlantic.

Whoopi Goldberg on a recent episode of The View.

Goldberg has offered her apology for the remarks she made, and it’s worth pointing that out before we go any further. She apologised for “the hurt [she] caused” and reiterated her support for Jewish people and Jewish communities around the world. It’s not for me to decide whether her apology is up to code, and again I encourage you to read it in full. I felt it important to point out that she has issued an apology before proceeding any further.

The Holocaust is such a unique event in the history of our world that it almost beggars belief that a 66-year-old woman, who otherwise seems to be well-informed and whose job it is to discuss current events, could be so profoundly ignorant or misinformed about what it is. Holocaust education, at least here in the UK, has been a big part of the history curriculum in schools for at least fifty years – if not longer – and there are many institutions around the world dedicated to preserving the memory of Holocaust victims and promoting education about the Holocaust. Less than a week ago, on the 27th of January, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day, a worldwide event held on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

A photograph of the iconic entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp.

On a school trip to Germany almost thirty years ago I visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp and saw firsthand the kind of facilities that the Nazis used to keep political prisoners, Romani, Jews, and everyone else that they deemed “sub-human” or “undesirable.” Seeing the camp is something that has stuck with me for decades, and the sombre lessons that my class had about the Holocaust and the extermination of Jews are likewise seared in my memory.

British-made documentary series The World At War has one of the best educational pieces about the Holocaust that I’ve ever seen in its episode Genocide, and if you can find a copy I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a harrowing watch, but for anyone who wants to learn more about this defining moment in history, and the events that led to it, The World At War presents the history of the Holocaust about as well as possible, and includes interviews with survivors.

Title card for The World At War episode Genocide; recommended viewing for anyone wishing to learn more about the Holocaust.

Outside of conversations and discussions about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust itself, it’s almost never a good idea to bring up the Holocaust. Politicians, commentators, directors, and even journalists have all found themselves in trouble for saying something stupid or ill-informed, or for using the Holocaust as an unfair comparison to something else happening in the world. And when making unprepared, unscripted remarks – as Whoopi Goldberg appears to have been – misspeaking is all the easier.

I can’t defend what Whoopi Goldberg said. It was so ignorant and stupid that she deserves all of the backlash she receives. It’s also indicative, at least to me as a non-American, of America’s continuing obsession with black-and-white race issues that completely ignore every other marginalised group. Almost sixty years after Martin Luther King dreamed of a country where everyone would be judged by the “content of their character,” America seems more race-obsessed than ever – and that obsession with black-versus-white racism comes at the cost of marginalising or completely ignoring practically every other group.

Whoopi Goldberg with Stephen Colbert.

Part of Whoopi Goldberg’s defence of her original remarks, made during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, drew on her own understanding of race and racism as an African-American, and appear to me to reinforce the idea that too many Americans have a strange, warped misunderstanding of what race even is – as well as who can and can’t be racist and how racism itself works. To me, that’s indicative of a fundamental failure of the American education system and of the way racial issues in America are discussed and debated.

So that’s my read on what happened. Given the outrage that Whoopi Goldberg’s comments understandably generated, I wanted to step back and consider what impact, if any, the controversy now engulfing her may have on Star Trek: Picard Season 2, which is scheduled to premiere in just over four weeks from today. Goldberg is set to reprise her role of Guinan, bringing the character back to our screens for the first time since 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, and she was recently featured in a big way in the latest trailer.

Admiral Picard with Guinan in the Picard Season 2 trailer.

At time of writing, no one involved with Star Trek: Picard Season 2 has made a public statement on the Whoopi Goldberg controversy, but I don’t see how that can be sustainable, especially when the cast and crew get on the publicity circuit and start giving interviews in the run-up to the season premiere. Whoopi Goldberg, having just made her first big appearance in the new season’s marketing, may have been slated to make appearances or give interviews about the show – but I’m not sure whether that will happen at all now, or whether her role may be scaled back.

Sometimes they say that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but take it from someone who used to work in marketing: this is about as bad as it gets in terms of publicity! The last thing anyone involved in Star Trek: Picard needs is for Whoopi Goldberg’s comments to overshadow the show’s return, so in my opinion the producers and actors need to get together and put out a statement relatively quickly, and certainly before they get out on the publicity circuit. That way they’ll be able to refer to their statement when the inevitable questions are asked.

A publicity event in the run-up to Picard Season 1 in 2020.

I’ve heard from several people who say that they’re either not going to watch Picard Season 2, or that they’re far less enthusiastic about supporting the upcoming season in light of Whoopi Goldberg’s comments. There’s a danger for ViacomCBS that this will snowball if they don’t handle it well, perhaps leading to an unofficial boycott or significantly fewer viewers tuning in, so the corporation and its marketing team really need to get out in front of this as quickly as possible.

There’s a theory from the world of literary criticism that I think is worth discussing: “death of the author.” Originally proposed in 1967 by French critic Roland Barthes, death of the author basically argues that we should consider a work of literature on its own merits, separating the writing from the writer. Death of the author has since been applied to other forms of media, including television and film, and in this context we’re looking at whether it might be possible to separate the performance from the actor – to enjoy Guinan without celebrating Whoopi Goldberg.

Guinan and Admiral Picard embracing in the Picard Season 2 trailer.

The two sides to this never-ending discussion are as follows: either it’s possible and desirable to separate the art from the artist, considering the merits of a piece without any consideration for who the author or artist was, or it isn’t possible or desirable to do so, and that the context of who the creator was matters in a fundamental way to the work in question. With actors this is, perhaps, more readily apparent because we can see and hear them; it’s far more difficult to put an actor out of our mind while watching and listening to them in real-time.

My take on death of the author varies somewhat. If an artist, author, or performer is long-dead, it’s much easier in my view to analyse their work, and even enjoy their work, without paying too much attention to who they were. The performance has outlived the performer, so to speak. But when dealing with living people, I find this far more difficult to do. I understand Barthes’ arguments about objectivity and judging a work on its own merits, but when people hold outspoken or particularly harmful points of view, I find it much more difficult to set that aside for the sake of art or entertainment.

Signature of Roland Barthes, who first espoused the theory known as “death of the author.”
Image Credit: Wandrg, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

J.K. Rowling is perhaps the best example of this, in my opinion. Her blatantly transphobic statements and support for “gender critical” groups and causes has made it significantly harder for me to enjoy the Harry Potter series for which she’s best-known. I find it difficult to separate Harry Potter, either in book or film form, from J.K. Rowling in light of her offensive statements and the positions that she’s known to hold.

So when I hear Trekkies say that they can no longer support Star Trek: Picard in light of Whoopi Goldberg’s comments, I fully understand. I can empathise with that position because it’s very similar to how I see the Harry Potter series, and I wouldn’t want to tell anyone that they should feel differently. It can be difficult to set aside the artist and just focus on the art, especially when dealing with an actor who we have to see and listen to.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

I would say, though, that Whoopi Goldberg is nowhere near as important to Star Trek: Picard as someone like J.K. Rowling is to Harry Potter. She may only appear in one or two episodes, and as recently as last month it wasn’t even certain that she’d be appearing at all; her appearance in the trailer confirmed it. Had remarks like these been made by someone like Sir Patrick Stewart or one of the show’s senior producers, Star Trek: Picard would be in a lot more trouble. In my view, it’s probable that the show will be able to weather this storm, even if it loses some viewers in the process.

Whoopi Goldberg has offered an apology, and in the coming days I would expect to hear something from the Picard Season 2 cast and crew, disavowing her comments and perhaps dropping her from the publicity circuit or reducing her importance to the show’s marketing campaign. That will most likely allow Picard Season 2 to get through the next few weeks in the run-up to the show’s broadcast.

Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan in the Picard Season 2 trailer.

In a way, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. With the new season premiering in just over four weeks from now, this is the moment for the marketing campaign to truly gear up and start promoting the show’s return. It’s been two years since Picard Season 1 went off the air, so for casual viewers and for fans who aren’t keeping up-to-date with the ins and outs of Star Trek, simply getting the message out about Picard’s return has to be top priority. There’s no doubt in my mind that this controversy will be a distraction, one that the show absolutely does not need.

But I don’t believe it will be a fatal distraction, at least not as things stand. Whoopi Goldberg isn’t likely to be cut or edited out of Picard Season 2, and even seems likely to retain her job on The View, despite her remarks. There’s enough time over the next month for the marketing team to move past this controversy, which, like so many others, will have a relatively short shelf-life on social media before fading away.

I’m disappointed with Whoopi Goldberg. Her character of Guinan is so calm, ethereal, and wise that it can be jarring, as a Trekkie, to see Whoopi Goldberg talking up a storm on The View at the best of times, and this controversy is an even more extreme example. However, I note that she has at least made an attempt to apologise – and seems to be sincere. And on the positive side, her initial ignorance of the Holocaust may have shone a light on a far broader lack of understanding and proper education about the event in the United States, potentially exposing more people to the reality of what happened, thereby preventing this kind of blinkered, ignorant point of view from being espoused in future. Better education and a better understanding of the Holocaust are badly needed, it seems, and Whoopi Goldberg may have inadvertently aided that cause.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will premiere on the 3rd of March 2022 on Paramount+ in the United States, and on the 4th of March on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 theory: He didn’t do it!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and the trailers and teasers for Season 2. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-4, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

What’s the one thing that we know for certain right now about the plot of Star Trek: Picard Season 2? We know that Q interfered with the timeline, “breaking reality” in the process, and causing Admiral Picard and the crew of La Sirena to have to undertake a dangerous new mission to the past. But what if everything isn’t as it seems – what if Q isn’t the one responsible for the damage to the timeline? Or if he is responsible, what if he has an understandable – and possibly even altruistic – motive? Those are the two parts of the theory that we’re going to consider today!

First up, let’s acknowledge some production-side reasons why this theory may pan out in some form, then we’ll jump into in-universe explanations after. Ever since Star Trek returned to the small screen in 2017 – and also during the Kelvin films and even, to an extent, in the latter part of Enterprise’s run – the writers of the franchise have been very keen to bring mysterious elements into Star Trek. The whole reason I got into writing up lists of theories was because there’s been just so much to speculate about in practically all of the franchise’s modern incarnations!

Oh look, it’s brand-new character “John Harrison.”

In Discovery Season 1, there was the hidden identity of Captain Lorca. In Season 2, the Red Angel’s identity (and Spock’s connection to it) formed a huge part of the narrative. In Season 3, there was the Burn. In Season 4 we have the ongoing mysteries of the Dark Matter Anomaly, Unknown Species 10-C, and more. And in Picard Season 1 we had the mystery of Dahj and Soji, Bruce Maddox going missing, Coppelius, the Zhat Vash’s admonition and crusade, and the super-synths.

In all of these cases, everything was not as it seemed. In the run-up to Picard Season 1, Soji’s very existence was kept secret, with Isa Briones claiming to only play the character of Dahj. The show played its cards close to its chest for practically the entire season, keeping secrets about the nature of the Artifact, the Romulans’ plans, the super-synths, and more. The show has precedent when it comes to telling stories that go to unexpected places – and I see no reason at all to think that Season 2 will be any different in that regard.

Dahj in Season 1 of Picard.

The trailers and teasers that we’ve seen so far have been careful not to telegraph too much of the story. I suspect we’ve seen glimpses of scenes from the first two or three episodes at the very most, so the true nature of the story – and Q’s role in it – is still very much in play right now. No trailer or marketing campaign should spoil the finished product, and in some cases trailers can be cut and edited in very specific ways to conceal or outright lie about certain elements of a story. It wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened, not by a long shot!

There was also a remark from Sir Patrick Stewart almost a year ago, when Q’s return to the franchise was first announced. At last year’s First Contact Day digital event, Admiral Picard himself seemed to suggest that, while Q was certainly involved with whatever was going on, he wasn’t necessarily wholly responsible for it. That distinction may be key to this theory!

Sir Patrick Stewart at 2021’s First Contact Day digital event.

So let’s leave the real world behind and jump into the Star Trek galaxy. There is, in my view, evidence to suggest that Q wouldn’t do something that so drastically damaged the entire timeline. Ever since his first appearance in Encounter at Farpoint, Q has been viewed by Picard as an adversary – but I would argue very strongly that that isn’t how Q sees himself. By pushing and provoking Picard, Q has arguably sought to expand Picard’s understanding of the universe far beyond what he might’ve otherwise been capable of. In Q’s mind, the ends justify the means – so all of the meddling and provocation was worth it to get Picard (and humanity) ready for whatever the Q Continuum has in store next.

It’s even possible to read some of Q’s more belligerent actions – like placing the Enterprise-D in the vicinity of a Borg vessel – with the benefit of this additional context. In my earlier theory titled Q the saviour, this is exactly the point I tried to make. Q deliberately chose to introduce Starfleet to the Borg because he knew that the Borg were already planning to target the Federation, and he hoped that his intervention would show the Federation how dangerous the Borg threat really was.

In light of the mess that the Star Trek franchise has made of Borg-Federation contact, I think that theory absolutely holds water, but check out the full article because I get into it in way more detail!

Q introduced Picard and Starfleet to the Borg.

Whether you buy into my theory in full or not, I think we can agree at the very least that this is how Q sees himself. He doesn’t see himself as an enemy, provoking Picard out of boredom or malice. He sees himself as a friend, and may even feel that Picard is ungrateful for not reciprocating those feelings of friendship.

Q accused humanity of being a “dangerous, savage, child-race,” and it’s on these charges that Picard and all of humankind are on trial, and have been since Encounter at Farpoint. But at every stage, Q has seemed smugly satisfied when the puzzles he lays out for Picard (and others) are solved. He seems to see potential in humanity – perhaps even the potential to one day know as much about the universe as the Q Continuum themselves.

Q in his judge’s robes.

In episodes like All Good Things, Q even claims to have helped Picard solve a particularly difficult puzzle. By learning to see time itself not as totally linear, but in a new and different way, Picard was able to solve the anti-time puzzle. Likewise in Tapestry, Q gave Picard a chance to see what his life might’ve been like had it taken a different path. That definitely sounds familiar to his line in the Season 2 trailers about “the road not taken!”

In Tapestry, though, Q wasn’t some nefarious villain. He was making a point to Picard – in his own tricksterish way – about the course of his life, and how being a risk-taker was an inherent part of his personality. He didn’t abandon Picard to the new timeline that he’d created, instead giving him an opportunity to fix his mistake.

Q and Picard in Tapestry.

Q has, on occasion, seemed impressed with Picard and his ability to solve the puzzles he created for him. Even when Picard had to grovel to Q in Q Who and admit that the Federation wasn’t ready to encounter the Borg, and that the encounter was frightening, Q seemed satisfied that he’d made his point. In Encounter at Farpoint and in All Good Things in particular, Q even seemed pleased that Picard had been able to think through a complex situation and find a solution. He helped – but in a limited way – and in an almost-parental way seemed kind of proud of Picard.

Those feelings, of course, are not reciprocated, and Q has definitely caused death and destruction. Eighteen members of the Enterprise-D’s crew were lost in that first encounter with the Borg, for example, and Q didn’t restore them to life afterwards. However, on other occasions he did undo harm, and even death, caused to humans – such as by un-freezing Tasha Yar in Encounter at Farpoint.

Tasha Yar being un-frozen by Q in Encounter at Farpoint.

Q being the out-and-out villain of Picard Season 2 would, I would argue, represent a fundamental shift in his characterisation. It would take Q from being a trickster and an annoyance into something much more sinister, and while it’s certainly possible that he could have a darker side that we aren’t familiar with, it would be a major change that would require a good deal of explanation. Why, after having seemingly sensed potential in Picard and humankind, would Q try to do something so extreme?

Furthermore, from a narrative perspective Q doesn’t make a good villain. His god-like powers basically mean that Picard and his crew could never win, and Q’s amorality and lack of fair play mean that he would always be in a position to dominate and frustrate Picard if he ever came close to defeating him. This is a problem all overpowered characters in fiction can have, and it applies to Q in Star Trek just as much as it does elsewhere. Given what we know of Q and his abilities, it doesn’t even seem plausible that the Federation could find a technobabble explanation for limiting his powers, either.

Q has god-like powers.

So there are two questions remaining: did Q meddle with the timeline at all? And if not, who did?

There’s a case to be made that Q did still interfere with the timeline, and that all of this is another one of his puzzles for Picard to solve. That’s certainly one possibility, and it wouldn’t be completely out-of-character for Q to behave in this way. Perhaps he saw Picard getting back on his feet after years in seclusion and decided the time was right for another phase of the “trial.” Maybe we’ll learn that Q has visited Picard during his self-imposed isolation, too.

But there’s also another case we can make: Q didn’t have anything whatsoever to do with the event that disrupted the timeline. The extent of his involvement may be shielding Picard and the crew of La Sirena from its effects, allowing them to travel back in time to undo whatever happened. There are many culprits we could point to if Q isn’t to blame: the super-synths from Season 1, the Borg, the Terran Empire, a faction from Discovery’s Temporal War, etc.

The super-synths’ mechanical tentacles in the Season 1 finale.

Q may thus have an altruistic motive for reappearing in Picard’s life. If some external force or faction is responsible for the damage to the timeline, Q might believe that it’s up to him to “save” Picard and humanity. By returning to his old friend, he might do what we know he’s done on multiple occasions already: give him the tools to understand and fix the problem, but without giving him all of the answers right away.

To me, that is Q’s modus operandi. He sets up a problem – or allows Picard to encounter a problem independently – and provides minimal help. In Encounter at Farpoint, Q could’ve just been up front about the nature of Farpoint Station, but instead he forced Picard to solve the puzzle himself. In Q Who he could’ve simply told Picard about the Borg and their destructive power, but instead he made sure Picard encountered them first-hand. In All Good Things he could’ve explained the nature of the anti-time eruption, but instead he watched as Picard figured it out for himself. On each of these occasions (and more) Q provided minimal help and assistance – but the help and assistance he did provide ultimately proved key to resolving the situation favourably.

Q in All Good Things.

If Q wanted to, he could wipe humanity out of existence with a mere thought. If he wanted to kill or seriously harm Picard, he has infinite ways of doing so and unlimited opportunities to do so. He could go back in time and prevent Picard’s birth or turn him into Murf from Star Trek: Prodigy, or a million other ridiculous and sinister things. Sending Picard on a mission back in time, thus giving him a chance to undo whatever damage has been done, is not the way for Q to “win” in any sense of the word.

So it’s safe to say that I believe there’s more going on with Q than meets the eye! His involvement with the event that damages the timeline, and his reasons for getting involved in the first place, may seem suspicious right now – but we’re seeing small glimpses through the eyes of Picard, and thus with Picard’s own biases attached. Considering all of the other things that Q has done, and the many other ways he’s challenged and provoked Picard over the years, my suspicion right now is that there’s something else going on that the trailers and teasers have been careful not to reveal.

Q as he will appear in Season 2 of Picard.

To summarise this theory, then: Q either isn’t responsible for damaging the timeline at all, or he’s doing so for the purposes of testing or challenging Picard. What we’ve seen so far doesn’t depict a serious attempt on Q’s part to harm Picard or even permanently disrupt the Federation or the prime timeline; there’s something more going on that we haven’t yet seen – something that will, perhaps, unfold slowly over ten episodes!

I’m genuinely excited to see Q make a return to Star Trek. His appearance in Lower Decks Season 1 was relatively minor, so it will be neat to have him back in a substantial way – whatever form that ultimately takes and whatever his impact on the season’s narrative. He’s a more complex character than some viewers give him credit for, and as I’ve said before I don’t think it’s fair to call Q a “villain” – at least not in any of his appearances thus far. Perhaps Picard Season 2 will change that, showing us a darker and more sinister presentation of the character. But maybe we’ll get a continuation of this complex presentation, and the return of a truly interesting dynamic between Q and Picard.

Stay tuned when Picard Season 2 kicks off in March, because if there’s any development of this theory I’m sure I’ll have something to say about it!

You can also check out my other big Q theory by clicking or tapping here.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will stream on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world beginning on the 3rd of March 2022. The Star Trek franchise – including all characters and properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 – thoughts on the new trailer

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and all of the trailers and teasers for Season 2. Minor spoilers are also present for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Generations, and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Hot on the heels of a slew of announcements and updates about current and upcoming Star Trek shows a few days ago, a new trailer for Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard debuted on social media! The show’s release date has been pushed back slightly from February to early March, something that seemed inevitable when it was hastily announced that Discovery Season 4 was taking a six-week hiatus. Even with the delay, Picard Season 2 is now less than six weeks away, though, so it’s time for ViacomCBS to start the marketing push and, for us as Trekkies, it’s time to start getting hyped for the return of Admiral Picard and the crew of La Sirena!

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that I was less than impressed with the last trailer for Picard Season 2 when it was shown off at the Star Trek Day live broadcast back in September. The upcoming season of Picard seems to be combining two of my least-favourite Star Trek story tropes: time travel to the modern day and a setting that’s at least superficially reminiscent of the Mirror Universe. Those elements were still front-and-centre in the new trailer, but I felt that this time they were presented in a more mysterious and exciting way.

Less than six weeks to go!

Sir Patrick Stewart had invited Whoopi Goldberg to reprise her role of Guinan during an appearance on The View a couple of years ago, but we’d seen and heard nothing of Guinan since. I wasn’t alone in speculating that perhaps the story of Season 2 may have gone in a different direction, or that Guinan might’ve been included in Season 3 instead of in Season 2. That was an incorrect assumption, though! Guinan made an appearance in the new trailer, working in her familiar role as a bartender – this time at a bar called “10” on Forward Avenue.

Picard entering Guinan’s bar.

It was truly wonderful to welcome back Whoopi Goldberg to the role of Guinan. We haven’t seen her since Star Trek: Generations was in cinemas in 1994, and I’m hopeful that she’ll make a significant impact on the story this season. “Significant” doesn’t mean she has to appear in a lot of episodes or scenes, but rather that the scenes she does have with Admiral Picard will be meaningful. She was a dominant presence in the trailer, but the shots we saw of her all seemed to be taken from one sequence.

Guinan is back!

So let’s briefly step back and consider what we learned in the past couple of trailers. Something – possibly Q, but possibly not Q – has changed or damaged the timeline, leading to the rise of a “totalitarian state” which has replaced the Federation. Picard and the crew of La Sirena seem to be the only ones aware of the change – but I reckon this is where Guinan will come in. If you remember The Next Generation Season 3 episode Yesterday’s Enterprise, Guinan was the only member of the crew of the Enterprise-D who realised that the timeline had been changed. As an El-Aurian, her perceptiveness of such things was heightened compared to humans, so she may be one of the few people that Picard can turn to for help (other than Q and the crew of La Sirena) after the timelines shift.

Guinan and Picard embrace.

I could be wrong about that, of course! There was just something about Guinan’s presence on Earth and the way Picard seemed to be seeking her out that makes me think we’re looking at something happening after the event that damaged the timeline. Guinan also repeated the words spoken by Picard in the first Season 2 teaser, referring to a “final frontier” that could mean time travel. Picard referred to time as “the true final frontier” in that teaser, and I wonder if he says that line after meeting with Guinan.

Picard seems to be seeking out Guinan for advice.

Speaking of time travel, it very much looks like La Sirena will be using the “slingshot method” to travel through time, as several shots in the trailer seemed to show the ship travelling very close to a star. Though this is a known method of time travel within the Star Trek universe, it’s one we haven’t seen used since Star Trek IV – all of the shows set in the 24th Century seemed to ignore this method, and time travel technology seemed to have not been developed until later on. This has always been a bit of a discrepancy within Star Trek’s internal canon, because The Original Series showed time travel several times, and depicted it as being something relatively easy to do with 23rd Century technology, yet by the 24th Century something seemed to have changed, making time travel far more difficult.

Did La Sirena travel back in time by slingshotting around the sun?

This could also have potential consequences for Discovery – a ban on time travel was introduced sometime prior to the 32nd Century following an event called the Temporal Wars. I don’t expect Picard Season 2 to tie into this in any major way, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the process of traveling through time is depicted in the show, considering the potential ramifications it could have elsewhere in the franchise. As I’ve already suggested, the Borg Queen may be connected to time travel technology as well, and may somehow facilitate La Sirena’s trip back in time.

This moment also seems to depict La Sirena’s slingshot manoeuvre.

I caught a very brief glimpse of a couple of guards or soldiers – possibly from the alternate timeline 25th Century – who seemed to be in the early stages of Borg assimilation. There could be more of a Borg aspect to the story of the season than has been teased thus far, and we could see, for example, the Borg Queen escape her confinement and go on an assimilation spree. If she isn’t the one responsible for assimilating the individuals shown, it raises the question of who is! Could other Borg be part of the story of the season? Is the trip back in time an attempt to prevent a Borg attack on the Federation at the dawn of the 25th Century? It’s also possible that the individuals shown are inhabitants of 21st Century Earth, and that they were assimilated in that time period. Or, of course, I’m wrong about the whole assimilation thing and these are just soldiers/guards!

Who’s this, and why does it look like he’s in the early stages of being assimilated?

Sticking with the Borg, we also got a slightly extended look at Elnor bathed in an eerie green light – something we associate with the Borg. I speculated last time that this scene could be taking place after Elnor has been attacked by the Borg Queen, and may be in the very early stages of assimilation. We didn’t see the consequences of his injury, but he appears to be in a great deal of pain.

We got a slightly extended look at Raffi and Elnor.

The Borg Queen appears to be on the loose at least once, in a shot of her with Dr Jurati. The two of them were crawling on the ground, and Dr Jurati appeared to be wielding some kind of blunt object to defend herself. This looked like it was taking place aboard La Sirena, as the ship’s engine could be seen in the background.

The Borg Queen and Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati’s love of all things synthetic may come into play with the Borg Queen – something I theorised about last time. Could she be tricked, manipulated, or just talked into setting the Borg Queen free – or even helping her? After Dr Jurati’s brainwashing in Season 1 led her to commit murder, it would be quite the follow-up if in Season 2 she unleashed the Borg Queen on La Sirena’s crew! But this could account for the Borg Queen escaping, the potentially-assimilated humans on Earth, and even Elnor’s injury.

A close-up of the Borg Queen with La Sirena’s engine in the background.

Season 2 has certainly teased us with a Borg connection! I had some half-formed Borg theories that I planned to write up, but when we learned more about time travel in one of the earlier trailers I put them on the back burner because the main thrust of the story seemed to be going in a different direction. While it doesn’t seem like the entire season will be all about the Borg, their influence – and that of the Borg Queen in particular – may be significant. Using Dr Jurati’s connection and love for synthetics to tee up this story could be interesting – but it will certainly need to be handled delicately! Dr Jurati is already a character we as the audience may mistrust based on what happened in Season 1; having her be the driving force behind unleashing the Borg, even accidentally, could take her to a familiar thematic place, one that could prove to be very difficult to write her out of in future stories.

Is Dr Jurati going to form a connection with the captive Borg Queen?

Brent Spiner made an appearance in the trailer – and seemed to receive a strange glowing blue vial of something from Q. I’m going to posit that this character is not Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Data’s creator who we met in Season 1. Instead, I believe that this could be a brand-new character, perhaps another Soong ancestor who’s native to the 21st Century. We also glimpsed this character very briefly while Picard’s voiceover was talking about “moments upon which history turns” at the beginning of the trailer, and in that scene he might’ve had a facial scar.

Brent Spiner is back – but who is this character?

If it’s true that this character is a 21st Century native, it seems that he may be involved – somehow – in the event that changes the timeline. Past iterations of Star Trek, most notably Enterprise, told us a little more about the history of human augmentation and the Soong family’s involvement with it. If Picard is going to stick closely to past canon, perhaps this member of the Soong family is working on augments, and Q has provided him with something to assist in that work – perhaps even something derived from Borg technology.

A mysterious blue vial…

This could explain the “totalitarian state” that seems to have replaced the Federation by the 25th Century. If a dictatorship of human augments – like Khan – rose to power instead of United Earth, perhaps that government later evolved into the Mirror Universe-inspired fascistic replacement for the Federation that we saw in more detail in the previous trailer. We know from past iterations of Star Trek – including Star Trek Into Darkness a mere decade ago – that Khan would have established this kind of dictatorship had he remained in the 20th Century; perhaps this is the “single change” that the Borg Queen says is “vastly more dangerous than you realise!”

A second look at Brent Spiner’s character. Is he sporting a facial scar, or is that just a trick of the light?

At one point we caught a glimpse of a human boy, seemingly wearing modern clothing, encountering a Vulcan or Romulan. As far as we know, there shouldn’t be Vulcans on Earth in 2024 – so this could also, somehow, be connected to the changed timeline. Season 1 used mind-melds to spread brainwashing and visions of the Zhat Vash prophecy, most notably to Dr Jurati and Sutra, so there could be a connection there – somehow. This sequence, showing the boy walking alone through a wooded area in the dark, gave me Flight of the Navigator vibes for a moment!

The human boy walking through the woods…
…and the mysterious Vulcan or Romulan that he encounters.

A new character who seems to have glowing white or silver eyes was seen very briefly with Admiral Picard. As far as I can tell, this character is brand-new and doesn’t belong to any known Star Trek race or faction. This scene seemed to be taking place in the 21st Century (based on what’s in the background), but that doesn’t exactly provide us with much of a clue! I would say that Picard seemed not to be bothered by his presence; had he simply not noticed him, or is this a newfound friend?

Who’s this chap?

There was a shot of what looked like the interior of a 24th Century Starfleet ship suffering major damage. This could be one of the ships that La Sirena was seen engaging, but it could also be something from the past – perhaps even the USS Stargazer, as a model of that ship was shown off in the very first Season 2 teaser. Silly as it may sound, it was really neat to see the familiar Starfleet design of a hallway or room with angled walls. This design, which debuted with The Motion Picture, became synonymous with Starfleet ships throughout The Next Generation era, and it’s one of those little touches within Star Trek that makes the franchise feel like “home!”

A Starfleet vessel suffering major damage.

I could be wrong with this, but a shot of what I think might be a Starfleet officer being blown up at a console might’ve been filmed on one of the Discovery sets; it just looks like that from the set decoration on the left. The console looks 24th Century in its design, and in the background we could very briefly see an Okudagram that looked like it could represent a Miranda-class or possibly a Nebula-class vessel.

An officer at an exploding console…
…and the Okudagram behind them. Is that a Miranda-class or Nebula-class ship?

Something important was again reiterated in voiceover: whatever is happening to the timeline is connected in some way to a significant event in Picard’s own past. “A moment on which history turns” is how the trailer described this event – and my inclination at this stage is to say that it’s probably something brand-new to Star Trek rather than something we’ve seen or heard about before.

How does Picard fit into all of this?

There are moments in Picard’s past that we could look at as major historical events: assuming command of the USS Stargazer, defeating the Ferengi, encountering Q, his assimilation by the Borg, solving the anti-time puzzle, defeating the Borg in First Contact, defeating Shinzon, and preventing the super-synths’ arrival last season. But none of these moments, if changed, could lead to anything like what we see in the trailer. That’s why I think we must be dealing with something new.

What is the moment in Picard’s past that haunts him, and how will it play into a story about Q, time travel, and the Borg?

Sticking with this, Picard’s voiceover also said that this moment was something that “haunted” him for all of his life. It could be an event we’re familiar with from The Next Generation – like his assimilation – but it’s an odd choice of words if that’s the case. Maybe I’m overreaching, but I think the way that this was phrased implies that it’s something from deep in his past, perhaps his childhood but certainly long before he assumed command of the Enterprise-D.

Will an event from Picard’s life prior to The Next Generation prove to be connected to the season’s story?

It can be tricky, when dealing with a long-established character, to add brand-new backstory, particularly if it’s some hugely significant revelation about their past. If Picard Season 2 is going to go down this route, it’s definitely something that will have to be handled with care so it doesn’t come across as being too convenient or contrived for the sake of the new story.

Picard outside Guinan’s bar.

It was certainly neat to see several Federation (or “totalitarian state,” perhaps) starships in the trailer – but why were they firing at La Sirena? I couldn’t be absolutely sure, but one of the three ships in pursuit looked like a Nova-class ship, a design most famous for its inclusion in the Voyager two-parter Equinox. Described as a short-range science vessel in that story, this Nova-class (if indeed that’s what it is) seems to be more of a warship – or has at least been significantly upgraded!

What I believe to be a Nova-class ship seen from behind…
…and from the front, firing on La Sirena.

La Sirena has also been changed – perhaps by the shift in the timeline. Gone is the red “hot rod” livery that we saw in Season 1, replaced with a silver-grey metallic colour similar to other starships. We saw La Sirena engaged in at least one dogfight and pulling off some very acrobatic moves!

La Sirena seems to have gotten a new paint job!

There was a briefly-seen green light that illuminated La Sirena’s engine – I wonder if this could indicate that the ship has been fitted out with Borg technology, perhaps to facilitate the journey back in time. Green is, as mentioned, a colour strongly associated with the Borg, and green light in particular is a hallmark of Borg vessels and Borg technology.

La Sirena’s engine lit up in green.

After the timeline shifts, Picard seemed to find a painting of a different starship in his study, replacing the familiar Enterprise-D painting that we’d seen in his ready-room in The Next Generation – and in the first teaser for Season 2. This ship could be an alternate-timeline Enterprise, but it’s clearly a different design to the Galaxy-class, with a cut-out in its saucer section, different nacelles, and seemingly a lot more phaser banks!

Picard’s new painting.

It looked like this ship was engaged in a major battle, and this could be related to the interior shots of a ship under fire mentioned earlier. I think that the painting depicts the ship destroying one or more Borg vessels based on the size and colour of the debris seen around it, so perhaps this is the new timeline’s version of an event like the Battle of Wolf 359 or the Battle of Sector 001.

Is this a depiction of a Borg vessel?

We caught a glimpse of what seems to be 25th Century Earth in the trailer, protected by a shield grid that was not unlike the one seen in Discovery’s 32nd Century. Moments of symmetry between Picard and its sister show were rare in Season 1, and while I don’t think this really counts in a big way, it was still interesting to see the same basic idea being used in both shows – albeit in different contexts.

Earth with a shield grid in the Picard trailer…
…and the planet protected by another shield grid in Discovery Season 3.

We didn’t see much from Soji in the new trailer at all, and the clips we got of Raffi, Rios, and Elnor didn’t really seem to tell us much about the direction of any of these characters in the upcoming season. A few of the shots we got with each of them seemed to be extended or different angles of things we’d already seen in prior trailers: Seven of Nine at the wheel of a police car and waking up without her implants, Raffi and Elnor dealing with Elnor’s injury and again escaping through a marketplace while being fired upon, Dr Jurati interacting with the Borg Queen, and so on.

Rios and Seven (with Raffi in the background).

Keeping a tight lid on some of the season’s characters and mysteries is no bad thing, of course! This trailer was really here to showcase Guinan’s return, and thus it focused more on Guinan and Picard, with teases of the Borg Queen, Q, and Brent Spiner’s character. These clips perhaps came at the expense of seeing more from the new characters; Picard Season 2 will have to get that balance right and not give too much weight to returning characters from The Next Generation when it premieres in a few weeks’ time. As I said in 2020 in the run-up to Season 1: I’m not here for The Next Generation Season 8, and I want to give all of the new characters lots to do and a chance for each of them to become fan-favourites that we’re all excited to see return to the franchise thirty years down the line!

Rios on the bridge of La Sirena.

So we caught a glimpse of some of the upcoming season’s interesting moments – but we’re still a long way from figuring out what’s going on! Season 1 kept us guessing all the way to the finale, and I expect that Season 2 will follow a similar pattern, not showing us all of the story elements right away.

I have a few half-baked theories about the role Q might play in the upcoming season, the Borg Queen, and perhaps about Picard’s possible connection to all of this, so stay tuned. Between now and the season premiere some of them may get the full write-up treatment! For now, I think we’ve spent more than enough time talking about a trailer that was less than two minutes long! I enjoyed this trailer a lot more than the last one, and while I’m still not wild about a story where visiting the modern world is an important element, there’s nevertheless a lot to look forward to.

Q.

Right now I’m curious to see what roles the crew of La Sirena will have to play in all of this. Whatever changed the timeline left them untouched – and we don’t know why that may be. Are they the only ones who are aware of what happened? I have a lot of questions – but very few answers right now!

After