Maps and Legends, the second episode of Picard, sets up the rest of the series. We meet a few of the new characters who will fill out the show, and learn some new details of what is driving Picard to move back into the public spotlight.
We join the show with a flashback to 14 years into the past (2385), and the audience is treated to scenes from Utopia Planitia Shipyard on Mars. Above the planet’s surface, we see the thousands of ships gathered to launch and rescue the Romulan refugees. It happens to be “First Contact Day” (April 5), and we join the staff on Mars as they go about their day. A certain Mr. Pincus opened up a storage area, which was filled with pale-skinned, yellow-eyed androids.
“Good morning, plastic people,” said Pincus. They all greet him and walk out together.
Inside the Tri-Hy Station 18 work area, the staff complains about working on First Contact Day and ask the android F8 (Alex Diehl) a few questions, like if he partied the previous night.
“Hell yeah,” he responded. As the crew groused, F8 worked diligently in the background. Suddenly, his eye twitched, and he moved toward a control panel. His hands zoomed all over the screen, and before the staff knew what was happening, F8 lowered the Martian defenses. An automated alert went out, stating that “multiple synthetic labor units” had been compromised. Uh oh!
As the crew realized that F8 was part of what was happening, they approached him, and he took a tool (perhaps a laser torch) and shot them all. The Martian defense satellites turned on the planet, and ships fired on the surface. F8 then killed himself.
What a dramatic and intense start to the second show. It illustrated what we had only read (or imagined) about. That was how the “robots” took charge of Mars.
But when F8’s eyes trilled with new orders, which reminded me of what happened with Leland’s eyes (in Discovery, Season 2). Someone else was in charge of F8… but who?
It could be:
- The Romulans
- Sentient androids
- Section 31
- Another Starfleet faction who didn’t want to rescue the Romulans
- Someone else not listed there
Anyhow, this moment raises a lot of new questions, which can only be answered by Picard himself, as he moves forward through the story.
We rejoin the admiral back on his acreage in France (Chateau Picard). Zhaban and Laris joined him as they scrubbed through the footage from the attack and death of Dahj. The computer told them that there were no traced of Dahj present.
NOTE: Interesting that Jean-Luc has to put on a visitor’s pass at Starfleet Headquarters, but somehow still has access to confidential files and security footage. Oh well. Kicked off-campus, but they forgot to change his passwords. That stuff happens all the time.
Zhaban said that this fits the style of the Tal Shiar (which is the Romulan secret service), but Laris noted that this could also be the Zhat Vash, which may be an even more secretive group, which used the Tal Shiar as a cover.
Zhaban added that the Zhat Vash is a reference to the dead, as they are the only reliable keepers of secrets. The sole purpose of the Zhat Vash is to keep a terrible secret, which no one knows precisely what the secret is.
“Just learning it can break a person’s mind,” said Laris of the big secret. Wow! That must be some secret! Laris went onto say that when she first started with the Tal Shiar, Zhaban’s parents blabbed that the secret had something to do with a loathing for androids and artificial life. Romulans don’t have any.
Now that’s an interesting point. Right from the very beginning, the Romulans were portrayed as hunched over screens (see Balance of Terror). And unlike Kirk, and later Picard, the Romulans never asked the computer for assistance on tasks. Pretty interesting!
Laris also said that the Zhat Vash had no jurisdiction and operated secretly within Klingon, Gorn, and in the Federation societies.
Picard and Laris beamed into Dahj’s apartment to investigate. She used a Romulan forensic scanner to recreate what happened there. As she passed the tool over the room, it created a hologram of who was there and what they said. But it only showed a second or so of Dahj and her boyfriend relaxing.
“Oh, the cheeky feckers,” said Laris, when she realized that the Zhat Vash overwrote the forensic information of the room. She noted that the Romulans must have “saturated this place in antileptons.”
Laris went onto Dahj’s computer and found that that too had been wiped. But she used a reference to Dahj’s twin that the Zhat Vash missed determining that the twin was not on Earth.
The scene changes to the Romulan Borg cube, known as The Artifact. We hear Narek and Soji talking about the Cube and how it is no longer connected to the Borg collective. The Romulans on board were removing the Borg tech and selling it to make money.
“Oh, the cheeky feckers,” said Laris, when she realized that the Zhat Vash overwrote the forensic information of the room.
We then see Soji Asha and Narek rolling around in bed together. She noted that they had slept together. An alarm went off, and they got dressed. She asked him a bunch of questions about his past, which he gave nonsense answers for. This included her asking him what his real name was.
“I’m a very private person,” said Narek. He told Soji that he was going to watch her work that day.
She asked him what his title was on board the Cube, and he asked her if she could keep a secret (in Romulan). She said that she could. He said that he could too.
NOTE: Narek has a gray ear clip or something on the left side of his head. Could that be some sort of secret ear pod? Maybe!
Back on Earth, Picard greeted his old friend (from the U.S.S. Stargazer) and current doctor, Moritz Benayoun (David Paymer). Picard wanted Benayoun to certify him for interstellar service. Benayoun told Picard that he met all criteria, but he had a problem with a “little abnormality in the parietal lobe.”
Picard knew about that but seemed unconcerned. Benayoun said that all who had this condition had the same end.
Benayoun pressed Picard as to why he wanted to go back to space, and Picard said that he wanted to go back “more than ever.”
The next day, the admiral beamed himself to Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco. He appeared on a sidewalk and walked from a series of transporter “arches.” If you’d seen the Harry Potter movies, this reminded me very much of the Floo Network, which was used in the final Deathly Hallows film, much like these transporters.
Anyhow, Picard walked into the grand building. He looked up to see holograms of the Enterprise and the Enterprise-D — because obviously, those were two amazing ships. He signed in (the young man did not know who he was) and went to see the CNC, or commander in chief, of Starfleet, Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy (Ann Magnuson).
He told her about his theory that Bruce Maddox had created new androids based on Data, that the Romulans were involved, and that he wanted to be reinstated as captain and given a small warp-capable ship so he could investigate.
Clancy’s blood boiled.
“The sheer fucking hubris,” she said before she laid into him for bashing Starfleet on TV. When Picard tried to defend himself, she told him that the abandoned the Romulans 14 years ago because other species threatened to leave the Federation.
“The Federation does not get to decide if a species lives or dies,” said Picard.
“Yes, we do,” she said. “We absolutely do.”
She then told him to go back home (since that’s what he’s good at), and she denied the request.
NOTE: Clancy used a curse word. This f-bombing has become controversial in Trek fan circles. Gene Roddenberry would not approve, they say. But Gene’s dead, and while he was alive, he got kicked off the TNG creative team because he wanted humans to act to perfectly… or some would say, unrealistically.
Back on the Artifact, Soji was going to work and helped a new Trill worker get her suit on properly. They shared a little small talk, and ultimately agreed that Narek was “hot.”
Soji told her that she should not cross over to the “Gray Zone” without her communicator turned on.
They lined up together to listen to a “welcome” lecture from one of the Romulan staffers who worked at the “Borg Artifact Research Institute.” He told then to be careful and also not to touch anything as it could be malignant, and if their badge started to turn green, they needed to run.
They wandered in, and Narek zoomed up to them and introduced himself to the Trill, who was Dr. Naashala Kunamadestifee (Chelsea Harris) of Trill Polytech. He explained that there was no danger since the Borg had severed the link to the Cube. Narek told Soji that he wanted to see her at work; Soji said that he’d need special permission. Narek said that he did not.
Back in France, Dr. Agnes Jurati was in Picard’s living room, looking at a paper book — “The Complete Robot.” As Picard brought in tea for the two of them, he said:
“I never really cared for Science Fiction,” said Picard. “I guess… I just didn’t get it.”
THAT MIGHT BE THE FUNNIEST LINE IN STAR TREK. EVER. I laughed out loud. Could it be that Picard does not realize that he is science fiction? I guess in a way, our ancestors might look our lives in the 21st Century, and think that it must be too good to be real.
Anyhow, Agnes started to drink a little Earl Grey tea and tell Picard that she looked through all of Bruce Maddox’s stuff, and didn’t find too much. She also reported that Dahj was accepted to Daystrom, but there are no records of her existence before three years ago.
NOTE: I hope that Bruce Maddox is not some “Red Herring” or “MacGuffin” that is never found but chased after through the series. They talk about him a whole lot.
Agnes told Picard that now they ought to focus on finding the other ‘Asha’ android that is still alive. If she’s still alive.
“I never really cared for Science Fiction,” said Picard. “I guess… I just didn’t get it.”
CUT to the Borb Cube, where the other ‘Asha’ android is operating on a Borg refugee, removing the prosthetic parts one by one from the organic being. One of the Romulans under her command called the Borg a “nameless.” Soji said she hated that title.
After the procedure was complete, the body was designated for “level one disposal,” and Soji walked to his side and spoke to him in Romulan. Narek, who was in the back observing, perked up.
Meanwhile, Picard took out his old combadge (last seen in Nemesis), tapped it and began to speak:
“Raffi, don’t hang up. I need your help. I need a ship.”
YES! And as he said this, he gazed upward at the night and stars… the Alexander Courage Trek theme played.
Back in San Francisco, Fleet Admiral Clancy paid a call to Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita) to express her unhappiness with Picard’s visit and knowledge. Clancy asked Oh to “look into it.” Oh then summoned Lt. Rizzo.
In France, Laris freaked out when Picard announced that he was going after Bruce Maddox. She ordered him to take Zhaban along, but Zhaban said that he would stay to tend to the grapes.
Zhaban told Picard that he needed a crew and that he should contact Riker, La Forge, and Worf. Picard said that he knew they’d drop what they were doing to help him, but he refused to ask them for help. Picard did not want them to be in danger on his account.
Zhaban said that he needed someone who hated Picard and has nothing to lose. Picard said he’d already made the call.
In Commodore Oh’s office, Lt. Narissa Rizzo (Peyton List) walked in, and Oh told her what happened with Picard. She said the old man mentioned Zhat Vash by name (which he did not… which makes me wonder if Oh has Picard’s house bugged). Rizzo asked Oh if she should “take care” of Picard, but Oh said no. If “the need arises,” Oh would take care of Picard herself.
Oh ordered Rizzo to stay on mission, and said that Rizzo’s team destroyed the “thing” before it could be interrogated (which was Dahj). Oh said they had just one more opportunity (Soji). Rizzo said that she had her best agent on the case, but Oh said that she has misgivings about his ability as well. Rizzo said she would vouch for him with her life. Oh accepted, but told Rizzo to personally oversee the operation.
NOTE: So it appears that Oh and Rizzo are Romulan agents working in the Federation. That brings up many questions …
He walked toward the cabin while holding a bottle of wine. As he got close to the entrance, Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) popped out, holding a phaser rifle. She told him to leave and that there was nothing he had to say which she wanted to hear.
As he turned back, with his hands raised, he told her that “secret Romulan assassins are operating on Earth.” She stopped him.
On the Cube, Rizzo appeared suddenly in Narek’s cabin. He laughed at her “round ears” and disguise. She told him about her meeting with Oh, and said that she would soon be arriving at the Cube to oversee things. Narek stood up and walked through Rizzo (a hologram).
She told him that the stakes could not be any higher “baby brother” and that if his way of getting information from Soji, then they would try her method. Yikes! When her way is used, people die — Romulans and androids.
Mysteries opened by this episode:
- Why does the Zhat Vash hate artificial life? Was there some kind of incident in the Romulan past that caused this hatred?
- What is the Gray Zone on the Borg cube?
- How long had Commodore Oh been implanted in Starfleet? It had to have been more than just 14 years.
- What is the information that Rizzo and Narek are trying to get from Soji? Does Soji even know what they’re after?
- Why does Raffi hate Picard?
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
This was another great, but slow, episode. There is a lot of sitting and chatting with this new Picard show… but there were a lot of meetings onboard the Enterprise-D as well, so I guess we should be prepared for this sort of thing. Picard is a diplomat, after all.
Much like the first episode, “Maps and Legends” is building toward something. As detailed above, we have a series of questions that need answering. This episode added even more questions to that list.
RATING: 4 out of 5