SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from Star Trek: Picard S01E02: “Maps and Legends”
Good Morning Plastic People
Picard episode 2, “Maps and Legends” opens in 2385 (14 years in the past) at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards on Mars. It’s First Contact Day and most of the workers have the day off. All except a few on the skeleton crew and the androids, or synthetics as they are called. There seems to be some animosity toward the synthetics by the crew as they try to teach the synthetic, F8, a joke (I didn’t get it either and I’m about 90% sure I’m not a synthetic) and outright degrade him. During lunch F8’s eyes flicker and he walks over to the computer screen and programs the ships in the fleet yard and orbiting satellites to attack the base. He then picks up a blaster and kills all the workers. As F8 watches the destruction unfold around him, he puts the blaster to his head and pulls the trigger.
This brings up a lot of questions as to the emotional intelligence of F8 and all synthetics. The synthetics are modeled after Data, who had an emotion chip installed but it took years for Data to use it correctly. Data removed the chip during the events of Insurrection and the chips fate is unknown. It was either destroyed with him, or possibly taken by La Forge. Do these synths have a similar emotion chip and all the teasing from the crew set him off? Or was F8’s neural network hacked and someone programmed him to start the attack? Certainly some form of emotion chip was perfected since Dahj and Soji think they are human and have all the same feelings and emotions. The eye flicker is the biggest clue, it appears F8 was hacked, reprogrammed to kill and then kill itself to remove all traces. But who would do it and why?
Back at Château Picard, Laris, Zhaban and Picard look at video footage of the Romulan attack on Picard and Dahj. Laris tells Zhabab that the attack is too reckless for the Tal Shiar and must be the Zhat Vash. The Tal Shair was the elite intelligence agency for the Romulan Empire. It’s sole purpose was to guard the Romulan Empire from interstellar enemies, like the Federation and Klingons, as well as traitors working within the Empire. Tal Shair was first introduced into Star Trek lore in Season 6 of “The Next Generation .”
Laris and Picard travel to Dahj’s apartment looking for clues to the original attack that ‘activated’ Dahj. In the apartment Laris produces a Romulan molecular reconstruction device and we get a bit of history about her. Laris, along with Zhaban, were once part of the Tal Shair. She tells Picard about the rumors of the Zhat Vash, how they have been around since ancient times and they were a secretive, specialized group within the Tal Shair. Their sole mission was to hunt and kill all all Synthetic life forms, a Romulan Death Squad. Many believe they are a myth, but Laris is convinced the group exist.
While digging through Dajh’s computer Laris is able to find communications between Dajh and Soji. She can’t pinpoint Soji’s location but can tell that she is not on Earth. I thought it was interesting that Dajh and Soji know of each other. Why didn’t Dahj call Soji at some point after she was attacked in her apartment and let her know what happened. Or why did Dahj ask Soji if she had visions of Picard as well?
Over on the Borg ship Soji and Narek are talking about the Borg reclamation and their budding relationship. Narek tells her that their relationship must remain a secret and he is a private person. And then they are off to work.
Later Picard is visited by his old friend Dr. Moritz Benayoun. The two men served together on the USS Stargazer, Picard’s post before he commanded the Enterprise. Moritz is there to notify Picard his medical scans came back normal, except for one, an abnormality in the parietal lobe. This isn’t the first time Picard has had issues with the parietal lobe, in Season 4, after Picard’s Borg implants are removed Dr. Crusher records increased activity in his parietal lobe. In the Series finale “All Good Things…” Dr. Crusher detects a small defect in the parietal lobe and tells Picard that it could lead to various neurological disorders.
Moritz isn’t sure what type of disorder Picard has, but he knows they all end the same way. Picard is undeterred and asks his old friend to certify him for interstellar travel. While it was good to have an old friend deliver the news. I think it would have been better (at least for this fan boy) if Dr. Crusher delivered the news…maybe she was busy.
Picard beams to Starfleet HQ and meets with Admiral Clancy, the Commander in Chief of Starfleet. Picard lays out everything he knows, Dr. Maddox creating a new synthetic using Data’s neurons and the Romulan involvement. Picard requests temporary reinstatement into Starfleet, as well as a ship and a small crew to look for Soji. Clancy barks at him for his “sheer f*&king, hubris” and begins to dress him down. And in this scene there’s no mistaking the F-bomb. In the scene with Laris talking about the Zhat Vash the F-bomb was almost missed. In 50 years of Star Trek there have only been three F-bombs in a Star Trek show, two in this episode alone! (The first was in Star Trek Discovery). I’m still on the fence whether I like this language in Star Trek or not.
Back to the CNC and Picard, during the ensuing argument the CNC tells Picard 14 species threatened to withdraw from the Federation if they continued to helped the Romulans. She further explained the Federation and all it’s members were more important than the Romulans. She tells Picard to go home and denies his request.
On the Borg ship Soji is getting ready to cross into the grey zone and meets Dr. Naashala, a new resident at the reclamation site. Dr. Naashala’s original orders were delayed 6 months and she doesn’t know why. After listening to a lecture about the Borg ship and the work conditions the two doctors prepare to enter the grey zone. Narek greets them both before they enter and explains to the nervous Dr. Naashala why the Borg won’t try to take the ship back once it’s removed from the hive. The scene seems to indicate the Borg are still around and maybe (hopefully) they’ll return. Narek tells Soji he would like to accompany her and see her work, she tells him he needs the permission from the director of the project. Narek responds to himself, “Actually, I don’t.”
There’s a funny sign in this scene that reads “This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation” I’ve worked lots of factory/manufacturing jobs and found this quite funny.
I Never Cared for Science Fiction
At Château Picard, Dr. Jurati visits Picard to tell him what she found about Dahj. When Picard walks in Jurati is reading ‘The Complete Robot’ a collection of stories by Isaac Asimov. Picard tells her he never liked science fiction and then offers her some tea. She choose Earl Grey of course. Jurati tells Picard she looked into Dahj and everything about her is fictional. Dahj’s entire identity and history were created three years ago. Picard is convinced more than ever that he needs to find Soji.
You are free now, my friend
On the Borg ship, Soji is overseeing the procedure on a nameless specimen. They are removing the Borg implants from species that were assimilated as Narek watches. As the ocular implant is removed Soji says in an alien tongue “You are free now, my friend”
I need a ship
Picard gets his old Fleet Badge communicator out, activates it and pleads with someone named Raffi not to hang up, that he needs a ship.
Back at Star Fleet headquarters Adm Clancy is briefing Commodore Oh (Played by Tamlyn Tomita, she has starred in 100s of TV episodes on various shows, most recently The Good Doctor and Man in the High Castle. But she’s probably best known to the retro crowd as Tomiko, Daniel LaRusso’s love interest in Karate Kid II) about the Maddox and the Romulan threat Picard warned her about. Commodore Oh seemed interested in Maddox but dismisses the notion of a Romulan assassin squad operating without her knowledge but agrees to look into it.
Once the call is complete Commodore Oh summons Lt. Rizzo. Oh reprimands Rizzo for the call from Clancy and Picard’s knowledge of the assassins. Oh tells Rizzo to stay on mission and she botched the first job and destroyed ‘the thing’ before it could give the location of others. Rizzo tells Oh she has her best man on the job.
Spittle Bugs on the Pinots
Laris is irate when she finds out Picard is going to find Soji. She tells him he can’t fight the Zhat Vash alone. Zhaban agrees and says they must go with him, which makes Laris even madder and she storms out. Picard tells Zhaban he must stay and help with the harvest. Zhaban insists Picard needs a good crew and should enlist Riker, Worf and La Forge. Picard refuses saying he doesn’t want them to die for him and he has already made arrangements for a crew.
Picard arrives at a house in the desert with an ominous rock jutting out of the ground. And it’s another staple of Star Trek Lore! The rocks have appeared in almost all Star Trek series. Original Series fans may recognize it as the backdrop when Kirk fights the Gorn captain (the weird reptile guy). Now the area is home to Raffi Musiker, a former colleague of Picard. However she doesn’t appear to happy to see him. She points a rifle at Picard and tells him to leave. He says there are Romulan assassins operating on Earth and she wonders if teh wine he brought is the ’86 .
On the Borg ship Narek is reviewign footage of the procudre when Lt Rizzo appears in his chamber via holo-communicator. He makes fun of her disguise and her round ears and we learn the two are siblings. Rizzo tells him she is coming to the ship and Narek says he is making progress and doesn’t need her help. Rizzo tells him he hasn’t made progress and ‘the thing’ hasn’t told him the location of the nest or the other abomination.
This episode felt more complete and helped move the plot along. The pilot, while good, served as an introduction to the new world and characters. Now we are getting into the heart of the story and seeing where are the characters are connected. Will Soji realize Narek is using her? I’m sure she will at some point but but it might be to late. As an android you’d think she’d have some ability to spot guys like him. And is Dr. Naashala a plant to get information out of Soji? I have my doubts about her.
I’m interested in the traitor Commodore Oh and Lt Rizzo. Why is Oh against the Federation and when did her hatred begin? And when did she recruit Rizzo as part of her scheme?
I loved the callbacks to Star Trek lore, the mentions of Picard’s brain issue from the Borg and some of the older characters and sets returning. Soon we’ll see more familiar faces as Zhaban alluded to Riker, Worf and La Forge and somewhere in the mix Seven-of-Nine gets involved as well.
Well get more answers and I’m sure have more questions in next week’s episode “The End is the Beginning”
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