After a relatively suspenseful and revealing episode two, the Star Trek: Picard writers opted for more of a slow-burn episode three, titled “The End is the Beginning.”
The episode begins with a flashback to the synthetic* uprising and destruction of Mars’ atmosphere (something I suspect will be a common theme among the opening scenes this season) and Jean-Luc Picard’s resignation from Starfleet and ends with him returning to his rightful home — space.
*Author’s note: Can we please just call them Androids?
Yeah, there was some stuff in between. Let’s get down to it.
1. Hugh lives on
We knew Jonathan Del Arco would reprise his role as Hugh, the former-Borg-turned-individual, this season. But, man, it was more satisfying than previously imagined.
As the first Borg to “individualize” in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “I, Borg,” Hugh is leading the effort to disassimilate members of the former collective of the Cube now occupied by Romulan refugees. But it wasn’t just seeing Hugh again. The way Del Arco is seamlessly able to emulate his character’s verbal cadence after nearly 30 years (in real-world time) while adding just the right amount of humanity is incredible.
The kicker? Hearing Hugh ask, “Why?” just one more time.
Somewhere, LeVar Burton just shuddered.
2. Which sister is she?
Speaking of Hugh, he’s the one who agrees to let Soji interview a recently reclaimed Romulan-turned-Borg-turned-Romulan by the name of Ramdha.
At this point, Soji starts to realize things might be a bit off where it comes to who — or what — she really is. She suddenly remembers things she has no business knowing. Like, for example, that Ramdha was on the last ship assimilated by the Borg Cube the Romulans currently inhabit.
Ramdha, an expert in Romunlan mythology, is set off by this revelation. She lays down something of a tarot card depicting two women who appear to be twins, asking Soji which sister she is. At the same time, back on Earth, a Romulan special forces agent reveals to Picard — under interrogation after invading the vineyard with his team — what the Romulans believe Soji to be.
3. Picard has … a nickname?
Imagine being close enough to Admiral Jean-Luc Picard to call him “J.L.”
J.L. is something you call your nephew when you’re trying to be the cool uncle.
Regardless, Raffi Musiker, who we last saw pointing a phaser at Picard until hearing of Romulan operatives and good wine, certainly feels comfortable enough to call the former captain and admiral by his new nickname. A little too often in their first conversation, to be honest.
A side note: is this the first character close to Picard that has been, ultimately, negatively affected in the long-run by his actions? I mean, yeah, it’s kind of silly for her to be upset with him after agreeing to such a controversial plot, for which she was fired from Starfleet. But I can’t think of another character — outside of Data — that didn’t go on to lead a happy life after their time with Picard.
4. Discovery shout-out
Remember what Dr. Jurati is listening to on a park bench in the San Francisco Bay Area? That’s right. It was the Kasselian Opera from the first episode of the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
Don’t worry if you didn’t catch that. Not even a lot of hardcore Trekkies would.
However, it does kind of confirm that Picard and Discovery will have some crossover as both shows progress — which is neat, despite the different time periods. Even better: what does that mean for the rumored Anson Mount-led spinoff featuring Captain Pike?
That scene, however, leads me to what might be one of the major twists of the first season of Picard…
5. Theory: Commodore Oh is from the Mirror Universe
Since when do Vulcans wear sunglasses?
When Commodore Oh — the head of Starfleet security and, apparently, in cahoots with the Romulans — shows up behind Jurati on that park bench and requests to “talk” to her about her recent interactions with Picard, she’s wearing shades that just scream “I’M A SHADY CHARACTER!”
For all the attention the Picard writers have paid to Star Trek series past, there’s no way this is just a wardrobe oversight.
Two possibilities exist. A) She’s a Romulan posing as a Vulcan working for Starfleet. After all, Picard goes out of his way to mention her race to Jurati. She’s working with Romulans, so it’s not entirely out of the question.
Or there’s my favorite explanation: 2) Commodore Oh is from the Mirror Universe. You know, the Mirror Universe we saw in Discovery and TOS and TNG. The Mirror Universe where people have photosensitivity. The Mirror Universe that just gave us Captain Lorca two years ago. That Mirror Universe. With all the evil people.
Whichever explanation is true, the sunglasses don’t make sense because Vulcans have two sets of eyelids. According to Star Trek canon, Vulcans evolved another set of eyelids to counteract the harsh sunlight on Vulcan. That was a pretty big plot point in the TOS episode “Operation — Annihilate!” Spock was able to recover his sight after being blinded by a massive dose of light because of his inner eyelids.
Until proven otherwise, I will continue to perpetuate the MU explanation like a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
An extra thing: ENGAGE
That line was complete fan-service and I could not be happier. Jean-Luc Picard is back.
Episode grade: B+
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