In the fourth episode, Absolute Candor, we dive further into the mess our captain made with the Romulans. We also get a good look at what happened 14 years ago and its repercussions. And a very satisfying finale.
We join Picard as he beamed onto the surface of the planet Vashti, one of many planets in which the Federation deposited the refugees. He’s there to reassure the Romulans that the Federation and Starfleet are there to help. And he looks quite dapper in his white and beige get-up, complete with a fedora.
“Jolan tru,” said Picard as he enters the house of the Romulan warrior nuns, the Qowat Milat, and their leader, Zani (Amirah Vann). As he walked in, he mirrored a small Romulan boy in a hand gesture — hands closed together, then slowly spread apart. Could this be the Romulan version of the iconic Vulcan hand symbol, which means “Star Trek” the world over? Maybe!
The boy, Elnor, asks Picard what the old man brought him. Picard pulled out a copy of The Three Musketeers. I must admit that I was very disappointed. I wanted him to give the kid a 24th Century gadget. But the gift of a “paper” book was soooo Picard.
Zani said that Elnor was making Picard uncomfortable, but Picard noted this was not so. Elnor thought Picard was “fond” of him, and Picard agreed. The old captain said that he still was not used to “Absolute Candor,” or how this sect of Romulans adhered to strict truthfulness — at all times.
Picard reported to Zani that the Qowat Milat helped the Federation move 10,000 refugees. Elnor asked how long Picard would stay, citing a recent promise.
“A promise is a prison, Elnor,” said Zani. “Do not make yourself another’s jailer.”
Picard turned the tables on her by surprising her with the sweet hanifak he promised her. “I totally forgot that promises are prisons, so,” Picard said. She laughed and accepted the treat.
Later, Picard noted that it must be lonely for Elnor, living with a house of nuns. Zani said that Elnor did not belong with them, and Picard said that he would find Elnor a better place to live.
The next day, Picard and Elnor played swords together and read The Three Musketeers together. It was evident that Elnor looked at Picard as a father figure. While they were sparring, Picard received a message from Raffi of the synthetic attack on Mars and left immediately.
“I’ll be back soon,” said Picard as he beamed out.
The scene changed to the “future-present,” as the La Sirena warped away with its passengers on board. The audience joined Rios as he was interrupted by Agnes, who told him how boring space travel was. Raffi found out that they were headed for Vashti and blew up.
“The man can’t even take a guilt trip without using a starship,” said Raffi.
Picard made himself at home in a holosuite modeled like his study in France on the La Sirena, which Zhaban sent to one of the holograms (again, played by Santiago Cabrera). This hologram seemed to have an “American” accent, who noted that Rios usually did not use this hospitality program.
Raffi barged in, with Rios trailing. The hologram disappeared, and Rios said that he hated the hospitality hologram. Raffi yelled at Picard for diverting their course. Agnes joined them, asking if it was a “secret meeting.”
Rios told them how “sketchy” the Qiris sector was now, as there was no power in charge (after the Federation left). He said that smugglers like Kar Kantar were running things. Rios said that Kantar had an old Romulan warbird, and was terrorizing the sector. Raffi asked Rios why hee allowed Picard to tell them to go there. Rios said that he assumed Picard knew of the chaos.
Picard said the Fenris Rangers were keeping the peace locally. Rios said that they no longer have the resources to maintain order. Raffi said that Vashti is also a “hotbed” for the Romulan Rebirth movement.
“But you’re going to drop in and pick yourself up a nun,” Raffi scolded. Agnes inserted herself into the conversation with that comment, demanding to know what Raffi meant. Raffi said that “JL” wanted to get a warrior nun from Vashti. Picard said that it was not that easy.
“They’re not assassins, and you can’t hire them,” said Picard. “The Qowat Milat have to choose you.”
Picard said that the Qowat Milat helped relocate over 250,000 refugees on Vashti.
“They are the most skilled single combat warriors I have ever seen,” said Picard. “And they are the most feared enemies of the Tal Shiar.”
He went on to say that he was confident that they would help him with this cause. Picard added that thanks to Absolute Candor, they will not withhold their true feelings. He then explained what Absolute Candor was to Agnes.
NOTE: I loved this. Though Picard said that this was the opposite of what Romulans hold dear (secrecy), I think it’s also in opposition to the Vulcan way. Vulcans repress all emotion. What an interesting contrast.
Rios left the holosuite study, and Raffi spoke quietly to Picard, reminding him to stick to the plan and Freecloud. Picard said that he would remember what they used to live by, which was: “One impossible thing at a time.” But he also added that he might never pass that way again (an apparent reference to the diagnosis from Episode 2).
On the Artifact, Soji watched footage of Ramdha (if you remember from the last episode, she was the Romulan xB who went nuts when Soji spoke to her) talking about the Ganmadan or the “Day of Annihilation.” The funny thing was that she was watching a Romulan talk show called Yrrh Mnrrh.
NOTE: If Earth was destroyed by the Sun (like Romulus was), I bet you all of us Humans would consider that the Day of Annihilation. Everything else after that — if we survived — would probably be pretty straightforward.
SECOND NOTE: Ramdha actress Rebecca Wisocky looks like Robin Curtis (you know, Saavik from Star Trek III and IV). I had to watch carefully that first time.
When Picard and company arrived at Vashti, the Romulans would not let them pass through their security shield. Picard said to announce that it was him, and Raffi said that they did not care. Rios offered that cash might work. Picard exhaled.
When he finally beamed to the planet’s surface, he walked around and was not happy at what he saw. As he did, two beefy looking Romulans watched.
Picard found his way to the nuns, and they welcomed him. Elnor appeared as he spoke to Zani, and they just stared at one another.
Back on the Cube, Soji examined Ramdha as she lay asleep with some sort of Romulan/Borg equipment attached. Narek floated in and started saying that it was not Soji’s fault for what Ramdha did. As Soji felt terrible about what happened, Narek turned on the charm.
He took her to some sort of bar aboard the Cube, and she asked him a series of questions, including if he was a member of the Tal Shiar. He said that he was not.
NOTE: There was a bottle of Romulan Ale in the center of their table!
She asked Narek if he knew what happened to the Shaenor; he said that he did not. He did mention that he might know someone who has access to the Borg database, which might have the information she was looking for.
He brought her down to a ventilation return corridor on the Cube, where they took of their shoes and slid across the floor. She then wound up kissing and smooching him. GAG! Come on Soji — in the modified words of Admiral Marcus — don’t you see you’re getting played? Also, this could have been a cooler scene if they found a place that was zero gravity. I mean, they are in space after all.
He questioned if she was really on a ship that left from Seattle on a particular day. She said that she was, but he told her that the publically available ship’s manifest did not have her on it. Soji got angry and walked off. He got her to return when he reminded her of the mission to learn what happened to the Shaenor.
In orbit, Raffi warned Picard that the planet-wide communications systems were all talking about one thing — him. She wanted him to come back before something bad happened. He said that he needed more time and that he was very safe.
Rios detected the Romulan Bird of Prey on an intercept course.
On the planet, Picard chatted with Zani on how everything was crappy now on Vashti, and she blamed the Federation. Elnor brought Picard a snack, but Picard did not accept, and the warrior-boy left in a huff.
Zani told him that because he could not save everyone, he chose to save no one. Picard agreed. Zani finally asked him if he was there to get the services of a qalankhkai (warrior nun), and he was taking on the Tal Shiar. He asked if Elnor was one of them, but she said that he never could be, due to his gender. She said that he was a great warrior.
Picard told her that he might die on this mission. She said that he would.
“Before that comes to pass, it would gladden my heart to see him live,” said Zani.
Picard found Elnor, and the old man explained their mission (Data, Dahj, the Tal Shiar… all of that). Elnor said that he remembered the stories of Data and his cat, Spot. Elnor remarked that he still hadn’t seen a real cat.
Picard said that he needed Elnor because he was old, and Elnor was young and strong. Picard asked if Elnor would “bind his sword” to Picard’s quest. Elnor got upset, saying that Picard came around now only because he needed something. He walked away from Picard… I could see why he would.
Picard called up to Rios and asked to leave. Rios said they could beam him up at the next window, in seven minutes.
Since he had seven minutes to kill, he went to the local water hole, which had a tin sign, which read “Romulans Only.” Picard didn’t like that too much, so he took it down and stepped on it. He then sat down at a table and ordered some water.
A large Romulan stood, and announced that his name was Andrev and that he knew who Picard was. He said that he was a former Romulan senator and that he heard Picard speak back on Romulus. He said that Picard brought a tear to his eye when the admiral told what Starfleet and the Federation would do for his people. But, as you know, none of that happened.
As the crowd watched, the senator and his men surrounded him, and they shoved a sword in his hand. They ordered him to fight. He defended himself at first, but then refused and threw the sword down.
From out of nowhere, Elnor appeared.
“Please, my friend — choose to live,” he said. The senator and his pals ignored him and went after Picard. Elnor then flipped in the air and sliced Andrev’s head off. The crowd gasped.
“I regret your choice,” said Elnor. He then warned the rest of the Romulans gathered to leave Picard alone. Just then, someone ran out with a disruptor. Picard and Elnor beamed up before they were shot.
Onboard the La Sirena, Picard admonished Elnor, telling him that Andrev should not have been killed and that from now on, there would be no attacks unless Picard ordered it. Elnor agreed.
Picard introduced Elnor to Raffi and Agnes. Picard asked Elnor why he agreed to help. Elnor said that Picard’s mission was worthy. Agnes asked what constituted worthiness. Picard said that the qalankhkai would only bind themselves to a “lost cause.”
On the Cube, Rizzo visited Narek in his bedroom, waking him. Narek told her that he had planted the first seed of doubt in Soji’s mind. She was unimpressed. He said that he knew what he was doing and that he would soon learn where all the rest of the synthetics were hiding. WOW! How many Datas are we talking about here? A world of Datas… or F8s?
Rizzo grabbed Narek by the neck and reminded him that Soji was Seb-Cheneb, a.k.a., the Destroyer. She released him, walked for a few steps, and turned to him.
“I’ll give you and your seed one more week,” she said. “After that, if I don’t have the location, we go back to good old pain and violence.”
Back at Vashti, the La Sirena was under attack by Kar Kantar and his old Romulan Warbird. Rios called for a new hologram named Emmet for help. Emmet, played by Santiago Cabrera, spoke only Spanish and ran the weapons systems.
It was a wild ride and a great battled scene. You just need to watch it. But right as you think the La Sirena was done for, a new ship entered the fray. A small fighter, which helped Rios beat Kantar. The Warbird was disabled, but the small ship begins to break up as it barreled toward the Vashti’s security shields.
Picard asks Raffi to beam up the pilot before he dies. She does, and to everyone’s surprise — it’s Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Even Picard was shocked. He stood in a stupor.
“Seven of Nine?” he said. “You owe me a ship, Picard!” she said, just as she passed out.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
I enjoyed all of it. But I will admit that I was not watching the opening credits for the second when they flashed Jeri Ryan’s name — and I am glad that I missed her name. When the fighter craft swooped in to rescue the La Sirena, I couldn’t stop wondering who could be on the ship. When they beamed her over, I smacked myself on the forehead.
This episode, like the earlier three, brought up a few questions:
- Why did Seven appear just then? Was she stalking Picard?
- What is Rizzo’s real name? Did I miss that? This is just my opinion, but Rizzo doesn’t sound too Romulan to me.
- What happened to the Shaenor?
- Will CBS All Access ever create the Romulan talk show, Yrrh Mnrrh? I know I’d watch it.
I do think that this show is really about Jean-Luc making up for all the lives he screwed up due to his self-importance. Perhaps Fleet Admiral Clancy is correct, that Picard’s hubris and overconfidence allowed him to operate without regard for the little people, while he upheld the grand mission. He had a great career as a starship captain, but once that was over, his life held no meaning.
RATING: 4 out of 5