Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Star Trek: Picard" season 2, episode 7
With just two more episodes after this until the end of Season 2, it's hard to imagine quite where the story will take us. However, since we know the third and final season has completed principal photography, this will be the only new "Star Trek" series to be written with a two-season story arc in mind, which itself is interesting and worth keeping in mind as the plot continues to jump around quite a lot. if you've not been watching along and want to get caught up before reading this review, check out our guide on how to stream Star Trek: Picard.
Simply entitled "Monsters," the seventh installment of the second season is a massive metaphoric trip down Memory Lane for Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) as he subconsciously explores some previously unknown father issues. This is of course precisely why he had to be injured somehow last week, so we could take a deep dive into his suppressed memories and add new layers to his personality.
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We mentioned last week about how, by physically hurting Jean-Luc, it does somewhat shine a light on the whole he's-a-synthetic thing, but this is clearly something the showrunner is choosing to acknowledge when it suits them and also ignore when it suits them, which is…er, fair enough. It's his show now, his command. He's in charge, the boss, the head man, top dog, big cheese, head honcho, numero uno...
Before we're barely 30 seconds into this episode, we see Jean-Luc sitting, with his arms folded, still wearing his tuxedo from last week talking to…someone. Then we hear an unmistakable voice…and lo and behold it's James Callis, best known to sci-fi fans for playing the deliciously twisted Dr. Gaius Baltar in Ronald D. Moore's epic adaptation of "Battlestar Galactica" and occasionally popping up in the "12 Monkeys" TV series.
(Nerd Note: Callis is wearing a never-before-seen Starfleet uniform variation that features the combadge style introduced in 2371 ("Generations") and the same colors introduced in 2373 ("First Contact") however, the quilting on the shoulder yoke is missing and the seams and material are noticeably different. It's entirely possible this is meant to represent a blurred mix of memories from Picard's past.)
This psychological set piece takes up the first two acts of the episode as we dive further into Picard's subconscious and Tallinn (Orla Brady) tries to place herself inside his mind, sadly though not by using an old AR western simulation. The battle of wits continues between Picard and The Psychiatrist and the performances from these two heavyweights is an absolute delight to watch, even if you're not 100 percent sure exactly what it is that they're talking about.
Tallinn (Orla Brady) successfully implants herself and finds Picard — who is still laid out at the hospital that Dr. Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez) runs — as a young boy struggling, both figuratively and literally with a demon, deep within the bowels of Château Picard, in the tunnels under the main building that were fortunately mentioned in advance just a few weeks ago in "The Watcher" (S02, E04).
The whole monster-in-the-mind set piece is little bit clichéd, but it's handled well by seasoned TV director Joe Menendez and the sheer ability of the acting talent involved carries it safely through to the end. You could argue that the almost "Buffy" style of the scene is a deliberate decision to once again reflect how these would be created in Jean-Luc's mind…but that's for fans to argue about endlessly in the future.
Dr. Ramirez eventually returns to the hospital while this is all going on and Rios (Santiago Cabrera) — the burly, bearded beefcake that he is — must use his magnificent, manly charm to convince the good doctor that everything is on the level. Meanwhile Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Michelle Hurd (Raffi) have noticed Borg code has been introduced into La Sirena's computer system and they begin to worry about Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) who has gone full Tyler Durden with the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching).
It's interesting at this stage that speculation is now rife that Jurati is somehow the masked Borg Queen that attacks and infiltrates the USS Stargazer in the second season premiere episode. (There's even a more extraordinary theory that it might turn out to be Jean-Luc's mother.) And while that is becoming ever more likely, one must also begin to wonder if Rios is going to remain in the 21st century. At first he tries not to interfere with the timeline but then about 10 minutes later just goes ahead and brings the good doctor and her son, Ricardo (Steve Gutierrez) aboard La Sirena.
Images of James Callis appearing in this episode were released before it aired, which spoilt the surprise a little bit, but thankfully what wasn't revealed is his character, the Psychiatrist, in this dream-of-sorts turns out to be Jean-Luc's father, Maurice Picard. It seems Jean-Luc's resentment for his Maurice's treatment of Jean-Luc's mother, Maurice's wife Yvette Picard was a result of simply not understanding the full truth that Yvette had a mental condition.
(Nerd Note: Jean-Luc's mother appeared briefly in "The Next Generation" episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" (S01, E06) while in a distant section of the universe where thoughts become reality and was played by Herta Ware. Jean-Luc's father appeared briefly in the outstanding "The Next Generation" episode "Tapestry" (S06, E15) and was played by Clive Church. In addition, both have been referred to in a few more episodes.)
Tallinn manages to pull Jean-Luc out of his coma and reveals that she IS Romulan, which in all honesty, is cringeworthy. "You could be an ancestor," he laughs, unaware of quite how lame this link is. She also reveals that once her helix-concealing cloaking device is deactivated, it can't be reactivated for eight hours.
Jurati, still in her evening wear, has long since left the astronaut gala and is wandering the streets of Los Angeles when she enters a bar — where Patrick Stewart's wife, singer and songwriter Sunny Ozell is belting out a song from her latest album — and for no immediately obvious reason, smashes the front window. We learn later that it's apparently to increase the speed of endorphin production, which in turn will increase the rate of…internal assimilation of Agnes Jurati by the Borg Queen. Either way, it's hard to imagine that the team of writers couldn't come up with something better than that. (Nerd Note: The bar is at 267 S Main St, Los Angeles.)
But Raffi and Seven have deduced that now humankind, everyone and everything on Earth and in fact the whole Alpha Quadrant face an even bigger threat than a totalitarian future – assimilation by the Borg.
Picard determines that Q wanted Picard to know about himself; according to Jean-Luc's logic, this isn't about him, it's about Q. So off he heads, back to 10 Forward and Guinan (Ito Aghayere), which is both unexpected and great to see. She attempts to summon at least someone from the Q Continuum, but instead of an alien entity…they get arrested by "Federal law enforcement." Fade to black.
This episode is a lot like last week's with regards to its structure. The primary set piece takes up ¾ of the run time and then the final act is stuffed full of other bits of the story. Last week's episode, the cleverly titled "Two of One" felt very much like a set piece extended to fill an entire — albeit short — episode. And that's how this second half of the season feels, so far at least: Like a tenuously linked series of set pieces.
The "Picard" that began seven weeks ago is now a distant memory as the plot has wandered off into a seemingly unrelated direction and the quality of story writing has begun to slip. At this stage, it's beginning to feel like the second season is just treading water until Season 3 arrives. While it is enjoyable to spend time with the characters in non-life-threatening situations, does any of this really matter? While being stuck in 2024 Los Angeles is doing little more than homogenizing this season.
Rating: 6½ /10
The first seven episodes of "Star Trek: Picard" are now available to watch on Paramount Plus and the premiere season of "Strange New Worlds" begins on May 5, 2022. Season 4 of "Star Trek: Discovery" is available to watch now on Paramount+ in the US and CTV Sci-Fi or Crave TV in Canada. Countries outside of North America can watch on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel.