It looks like the bad guys are starting to win this one — Nepenthe. Actually, there are no real bad guys on this show — even though Jeff Russo’s music would make us think otherwise. There are just actors who have a difference of opinion. Yes, even the terrible Romulans. They are in it to defend their way of life and culture against Starfleet, a predicted onslaught of synthetic people. When societies break down, rumors become the news. All of this could be fake, but the Romulans are acting against the Android-infested future, just in case.
The show picks up again three weeks in the past, when Dr. Agnes Jurati was eating her lunch at the Daystrom Institute on Okinawa. Commodore Oh walks up, wearing her famous sunglasses, and we get to hear more from their conversation. Agnes admits that she and Picard met and that she downloaded 300 gigs of data related to the synth projects onto her PADD (personal access display device).
NOTE: These PADDs were initially featured in The Next Generation, and pre-dated the iPad by over 30 years. No word on if Steve Jobs or Apple was inspired by these iPad-like devices.
Agnes told Oh that she was sorry that she did not get to meet Dahj. Oh said that Jurati was not in trouble, but Starfleet Intelligence needed her help. Oh asked Jurati to accompany Picard in his search for Bruce Maddox and his synthetic life. She asked Agnes to go off-world with Picard, and act as a spy. Agnes did not understand, until Oh mind-melded with her.
NOTE: There has been much speculation that Oh was really a Romulan, and not a Vulcan, which would explain the sunglasses. Vulcans have a second eyelid or something like that, which makes them wearing sunglasses silly. Or it could be that Commodore Oh did not want to be picked up on ID scanners, and wore those big sunglasses.
Agnes saw a nightmarish scene of a possible future, full of explosions, Oh (pulling off her own face), Ramdha (screaming), an Android of some kind, and the destruction of a planet. More like the implosion of a planet.
Jurati saw Oh’s thoughts and couldn’t take it. She vomited. Yuck! Agnes asked Oh what she could do to help. Oh had her take a blue pill (seriously — she did), which allowed Starfleet to track Agnes’ movements.
“What I’m about to ask you to do will require terrible sacrifice,” said Oh.
Back in the present, we then join the La Sirena, which was caught in a tractor beam from the Artifact. Captain Rios shouted at Raffi to hack the computer systems that are holding the ship in place. Eventually, Agnes tells them to tell the Romulans that they are not what they want. The Romulans want Picard and the synth, who are gone.
While they were going nowhere, Narissa Rizzo had Hugh in a hard spot. She and her Romulan goons rounded up a bunch of poor xBs to get the location of Picard from Hugh. Each time he refused, they killed one. Eventually, they all were killed.
Rizzo told Hugh that she hated the Cube and the xBs. She let him live because of the treaty between the Romulans and the Federation. Rizzo held a knife to Hugh’s neck, telling that he may have doomed the lives of trillions across the galaxy (by letting Picard escape and Soji live).
Meanwhile, Narek jumped into a little Romulan fighter ship and launched from the Cube. He radioed to Rizzo that the tracking device (Agnes) was working. It was at that moment that the La Sierna was released. Raffi figured that it was some sort of trick, and then they realized that Elnor was still on the Cube.
Rios contacted Elnor just as he found Hugh. Elnor said for them to leave without him and that his “help was needed here.”
They all sighed, said he was brave, but agreed to let him stay. The La Sierna jumped to warp, headed to Nepenthe. Then a cute little Romulan ship, piloted by Narek, zoomed right after them.
Picard and Soji appeared on a beautiful forest planet, where a human girl with her bow and arrow drawn met them immediately. Picard recognized her as Kestra, the daughter of Riker and Troi. He told her to aim at his head, not his heart because that was made of solid duritanium (a callback to the TNG episode, Tapestry).
As they walked back to her house, Kestra quizzed Soji on her relationship with Picard. Soji said that she’d never met Picard before, but that he claimed to know her father. Kestra asked if Soji believed what Pcard said.
“I don’t believe anyone,” said Soji.
Soji asked Kestra about the compass in her hand. Kestra said that she got it from Captain Crandall from the other side of ‘Infinity Lake.’ Kestra asked if Soji believed her. Soji asked if Kestra had lied to her yet. Kestra said that she had, as her outfit (which looked like something from The Lord of the Flies), was just a costume.
Kestra said that she really was not “Viveen, Wild Girl of the Woods.” She said that her arrows were real, but she would never shoot Soji because she was a pacifist. But she could.
Ketra turned to Picard and asked who Soji’s father was. Picard stuttered and said Data.
“Whoa,” said Kestra. “You’re an android?”
Soji looked stunned. Picard tried to console her, but she swatted his hands away.
“I know it must be very hard,” he said. “Everything you believed in… your memories, your identity…”
“My dreams, my body, my parents, my sister,” said Soji. “All of it was fake.”
Picard told her that Dahj was real, but now she’s dead. She was killed by the Tal Shiar.
She let a few tears roll, but then Picard that none of “this” was real.
“Just get on with the mind game,” she said and continued down the path.
When they got to Kestra’s house, Soji asked who “these people” were. Picard said they were old friends.
Picard appeared from the bush, and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) ran to him for a big hug. And kiss. So nice!
“You’re in trouble,” she said. “How bad?”
“Bad enough,” said Picard. “I’m fine, really. And I am very, very glad to see your face!”
Troi welcomed Soji. Picard introduced the visitor as Soji Asha, and was told it was “just Soji.”
NOTE: It was widely reported that Troi’s hair looked exactly the same as it did back in Star Trek: Nemesis. That’s because it was the same hair. Marina Sirtis borrowed the wig for about 20 years and returned after the filming of this episode.
Inside, the former Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) was hard at work in his kitchen. Kestra called to her dad, who ran to Picard for a big hug as well.
“You need a place to hide out?” said Riker. “Shields up! Perimeter scans to max!”
NOTE: This was awesome! Riker has shields on his house! Why wouldn’t he? It was both funny and memorable. I wonder if Riker could call for a RED ALERT in his house also.
“We’ve had a little trouble around here with the Kzinti,” said Riker. Picard said they might want to run “anti-cloaking scans” as well. Riker did, and caught on that Picard was having trouble with the Romulans.
Riker reminded Picard that he warned his old captain about helping the Romulans, back before the significant rescue attempt.
“Remember what I told you?” Riker asked.
“So you want to be ass-deep in Romulans for the rest of your life?” Picard remembered.
Troi walked in and said Soji was going to take a shower. Troi said that Soji appeared fully human, but she could get “no reading” from her.
Picard explained what had happened and that he now had only half a plan. Troi told Picard to go take a nap in Thad’s room. Kestra walked in with fresh “bunnicorn” sausage. Troi asked if Kestra cut out the venom sacs; Kestra said that she had.
NOTE: They showed a bunny (an Earth rabbit) at the start of the Nepenthe scene, but is that a bunnicorn? I don’t know. On Nepenthe, perhaps the rabbits have fangs. Could be.
“Stay as long as you need,” said Riker. “Whatever it is, we can handle it.”
“Absolutely,” said Troi.
We joined Soji as she finished up her shower, which was outside.
QUESTION: Why would a house, which had its own defense system and shields, not have a shower inside? Perhaps Nepenthe was always 78 degrees, and there was no need for an indoor shower. Or it could be that Riker figured out a way for the runoff water to be reused in his garden again.
Kestra quizzed Soji on her likes and dislikes, which all related to what she knew of Data (Sherlock Holmes, violin, etc.). When they got inside, Kestra asked if Soji had mucus, and Soji said that she did.
“Data did not have mucus,” she said. Soji observed that Kestra knew a lot about Data. Kestra said that was because her parents served with Data and Picard in Starfleet. She noted that Picard was the “greatest Starfleet captain ever.”
Soji said that Data could not be her father, because she was ‘made’ only about three years ago. Soji then turned and asked why Data would want to make an android with “mucus and saliva?”
Kestra explained that Data was always trying to be both more human and understand humans.
“He could do all of these really amazing things,” said Kestra. “But all he really wanted to do was tell jokes and learn how to ballroom dance. Are you like that?”
Soji said that until all of the android talk, she was still “clinging” to the idea that she was human.
Troi showed Picard to Thad’s room, and Picard asked about the language that Kestra was speaking before. She said that Thad created that language, along with a bunch more. She said that he never felt like he had a home, so he always made up homes in his mind.
Picard recalled that the last time he saw Thad, he too was speaking an invented language. She reminded Picard that he met him even before that (cue the adorable baby photo with Picard in uniform).
Troi said that he would have been 18, ad he survived. Troi said that they were doing alright now, but that Kestra “ached” for her brother. Picard tried to sympathize, then Troi changed the subject.
Picard said that they would leave quickly. Troi told him that he was welcome to stay… but if anything were to happen to Kestra…
“I’m not as brave as I used to be, Jean-Luc,” said Troi.
“Then you’re getting wiser,” he said.
Back on the La Sierna, Raffi and Rios realized that someone was following them. It was a Romulan “snakehead,” which was staying just beyond the ship’s scanner range. Rios said that they were small, but packed with firepower.
Rios said he would “shake” their companion. He jumped the La Sierna into warp just for a moment and stopped. Raffi asked what they would do now; Rios said they would just wait until their follower overshoots them.
Agnes said that she wanted to be the “fun crewmember” who suggests that they hide in a comet and learn later that it’s really a gormagander … but she instead suggested that they turn the ship around and head to Earth instead of Nepenthe. Raffi noted that she has been trying to avoid meeting the “synth chick.” Agnes threw a little fit, and Raffi took her away to get her calmed down.
NOTE: A nice tie-in to Discovery (Season 1, Episode 7 – Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad) when the crew found an injured gormagander and tried to care for it. The gormagander is an animal that can survive in the vacuum of space, and is known as a “space whale.”
“And now, you’re going for a ride with Aunti Raffi, who is going to hook you up with whatever you need,” said Raffi.
“Is it cake?” asked Agnes.
“You bet it’s cake!”
On Nepenthe, Picard chatted with Riker as he prepared their meal. Riker explained that he and Troi moved to Nepenthe to take advantage of the planet’s regenerative powers.
As they spoke, Kestra and Soji walked by speaking one of the many fake languages (Viveen) that Thad created before he died. Riker introduced himself to Soji — who made the most Dataesque head tilt move.
After the girls left, Riker told Picard that he had figured out the “mission” and who they were running from. Picard could not deny Riker’s assessment.
“Classic Picard arrogance,” said Riker. “You get to make the decisions on who takes the chances and who doesn’t, and who’s in the loop and who’s outside of the loop. And naturally, it always ends up with you.”
Wow, the shoe is on the other foot! Riker let his old boss have it. He went on to say that on a starship, that was fine, but now that he was dealing with a teenager, there was a problem with running things in such a way.
Troi offered Soji a “real” tomato, which was the first non-replicated food she had ever eaten. Soji said that it tasted so much better. While they were alone, Troi explained how her late son Thad was raised on starships, and he created a make-believe homeworld of his own (Ardani). They eventually moved to Nepenthe when he got sick with Mandaxic neurosclerosis, a silicon-based virus. Since there were no active positronic matrixes around to culture the cells in, he died.
Soji said that she did not know anything anymore, except that the Romulans are very interested in where she was made. She then explained to Troi how Narek manipulated her. Troi tried to sympathize, but Soji said that was making her trust Troi less. Soji said that she did not trust anyone or anything about where she was.
Picard walked up and said they were planning to torture and destroy her in a mocking way. Soji ran past Picard and shoved him into Riker. Troi told Picard that he had it coming.
Troi told him that he needed to be compassionate and patient. She said that she wanted him to approach dinner that evening as a meeting in his ready room. He laughed.
NOTE: Yikes! Is Picard that bad at personal relationships? I realize that he never had a family, but I guess I never thought he would be that insensitive. I suppose if you never dealt with young people — ever — then dealing with teenagers would be a shock even if they are synthetic.
We then switched to see Hugh and Elnor running through the halls of the Cube. Hugh was taking Elnor to the Queencell to fight the Romulans. But on their way, Rizzo stopped them in their tracks. She said that all of the “insurrection” talk allowed her to kill Hugh now. Elnor took out his sword. He asked them (in Romulan) to choose to live. Rizzo said that she was surprised by this encounter with him, and fired.
The battle between Rizzo and Elnor was fantastic. When it was apparent that Rizzo could not defeat Elnor with his sword, she told him (in Romulan) that this was not how the Zhat Vash and Qowat Milat fought.
She holstered her weapon, and he put his sword away. They fought, hand-to-hand, but then Rizzo took out a dagger and tossed it into Hugh’s throat. CHEATER!
Elnor grabbed the dagger from Hugh’s throat and tossed it at Rizzo, who beamed out before the weapon hit. As Hugh bled out, he told Elnor that he would need an xB to use the Queencell.
“I was that much of a hopeful fool again for a minute, thanks for that,” Hugh said as Elnor cradled him. Then he died! A very touching moment, and it was sad to see the end of a character that had been created so long ago.
Some suggested that Hugh be put back into one of the Cube chambers so that he could be regenerated. I don’t think it happened, but it would be cool if it did!
On the La Sierna, Raffi and Agnes ate cake together. Agnes said that Raffi was a “good person,” and then started to cry. Raffi started asking her if she was upset about Rios (their tryst) or Bruce Maddox’s death. Rios then appeared and said that the Romulan ship was following them again. Then Agnes vomited.
Back on Nepenthe, they all gathered for dinner, and Soji shared that Narek tricked her into revealing the homeworld of the androids. Picard started to ask her questions, and note that thanks to his heart rate, pupil dilation and other physical hints that he was not lying. He told Soji that he wanted to help her get back to her home.
“Before your sister came to me, I was haunted by my past,” said Picard. He said that he was now alive and had a mission.
She recalled when she told Narek about the red moons and their electric storms. Kestra said that Soji had a homeworld. Soji told Picard that she wanted to go there. Kestra figured out where the planet was (by using her “iPhone” to ask Capt. Crandall). It was a planet with just a number, in the Vayt sector in the Ghulion System.
On the La Sierna, Rios confided to Agnes that he thought Raffi was a Romulan spy or being tracked. Poor Agnes! She was the Romulan spy.
Raffi called from the bridge to say that the Romulan “shadow” was back. Agnes sobbed, then used one of the replicators to make a shot of “noranium hydride,” which the computer voice said was toxic. She gave herself the dose, fell and started foaming from the mouth. But on his ship, Narek’s signal died, and he was unable to track the La Sierna further. The EMH appeared and called Rios to sickbay, saying that Agnes was in a coma.
On the Cube, Elnor was hiding in the Queencell and noticed that Picard left the dog tag that Seven gave him. He grabbed it and activated it. It said, “Fenris S.O.S. Initiated.”
On Nepenthe, Rios finally got there. Before he left, Picard told Riker that his new crew was “motley,” and that there had been nothing but drama since the let Earth. Riker said that he didn’t think Picard should go back to space, because it was time for others to look after the galaxy. But he also added that Picard should never have resigned from Starfleet.
Picard thanked him for everything, especially for not trying to talk him out of this mission. Riker said that would have been a “losing proposition.”
In the house, Kestra told Soji that her parents helped her through a hard time. She said that Soji didn’t have parents, but she did have Picard.
Later, Riker and Troi hugged Picard goodbye. Kestra gave Soji the old broken compass, and they too hugged. Picard and Soji beamed up.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
Another good one! It was touching the way Picard acted around Riker and Troi. I think, personally, that was not acting at all. I think it was Patrick Stewart being very happy to be with his old friends. It all seemed very genuine.
I also enjoyed the evolution of Riker and Troi, which were originally created as Decker and Ilia from the doomed Star Trek Phase II series. That show evolved into The Motion Picture, but Decker and Ilia were both killed (or something). Riker and Troi filled the character void created when Gene Roddenberry created The Next Generation. Certainly when Decker and Ilia were created back in the 70s, there would have been no way to know how this would ultimately play out. They lived their Starfleet lives and are now retired on a beautiful planet with their daughter. So very nice.
Elnor is a wonderful character. I hope that we get to see more of him and that something terrible does not happen to him. It seemed that Zani (on Episode 4) sort of predicted that Elnor would die early. Hopefully, that death comes when Elnor is very, very old.
RATING: 4 out of 5